Meeting Minutes – 12.17.2020

Hi Everyone,

It was our last meeting of 2020 and an opportunity to not only look back but also look forward to 2021 and the opportunities that lie ahead. I think everyone agrees that our meetings have served as sort of a safe haven during a pandemic, lockdowns, curfews, racial strife, a contentious election and other craziness that made up the past year. Oh yeah, and all the while, we’ve been improving our public speaking and leadership skills.

First of all, I would like to acknowledge our guests last night including our Area A1 Director, Carla Taravella wearing one of the greatest holiday hats we’ve seen in a while. It’s always great to be visited by Carla and other dignitaries from the District. We were also joined by guests, Andy Eftekhar and Antonio Enriques. Thanks for dropping by and we hope to see all of you again, soon.

Joke Master, Rafael Macho kicked things off with a few holiday jokes which were followed by a Thought for the Day by Joelle Johnson. Her thought was from author Glennon Doyle and it’s a quote that should definitely be on everybody’s coffee mug after 2020:

Len Kung then introduced our Toastmaster, newly elected President, Alex Schams who joined us all the way from Minnesota where it was a balmy 22 degrees. Alex (dressed appropriately in a great holiday sweater that brought to mind Will Farrell’s attire in Elf) introduced our functionaries including Grammarian Alex Bello who had a Word of the Day that became one of the most used WOTDs in recent memory: schadenfreude. Not something you hear every day but we sure heard it last night.

Blake Samuelle was unable to attend because her photoshoot was running late so our first and only speaker was Sam Nazarian. Sam gave a very timely, thoughtful speech about the importance of sacrifice and trust in our society. It made me think about 2020 and how it is going to be terrific source material for a lot of great speeches in the years ahead. Well done, Sam!

Sam’s speech was evaluated by the accomplished and insightful Shar McBee then it was on to an expanded version of Table Topics overseen by TTM, Karan Bavandi. Karan asked some terrific questions and, as usual, we learned a few things.

Laila Aitken was once turned down when she tried to lease a car, not because of bad credit but because, after living abroad, she had no credit history in the US which meant, no car. Laila isn’t one to delve into schadenfreude but if she did, she could probably think of a few things that could happen to a certain leasing agent.

Joelle Johnson was called upon to design a bumper sticker. She said it would be simply, “Be Kind” which would match the words on the sweatshirt she was wearing. A great quote and something that could definitely be used to tie together an ensemble.

Lauren Clayton told us that one of the great things about schadenfreude (there’s that word again) is that it relieves stress. This didn’t have much to do with her question but it was a clever way to relieve the stress of coming up with another answer.

Carla Taravella also pivoted from her question to a story about another time schadenfreude (I’m almost able to spell it from memory by now) was used as a WOTD. There were TM members in her club who didn’t think a German word like that was appropriate. As luck would have it, the word was all over the news the next day when, apparently, there was a national outbreak of the stuff.

When Alex Bello was asked what he looks for in others, he said positivity and inspiration, which, by the way, is what keeps him coming back to Toastmasters. Hmmm…I sense a testimonial.

Andy Eftekhar was asked to tell us the difference between a conservative and progressive. He very diplomatically said that balance is what we should strive for in government. A great answer which makes me think he could have a career in politics.

Len Kung was tired of political questions so she told us a heartwarming story of holidays as a kid when she would spend evenings around a warm fire gambling with the family.

Antonio Enriques must have been a good boy years ago because when he wrote Santa and asked for a bike, he got a bike. This year, he’s thinking of asking for a Lexus.

Rafael Macho told us about the greatest gift he’s ever given which was a piano he gave to his wife. A great idea but tough to wrap and get under the tree.

When Armando Yee was asked his question, we were, once again, off to Mexico for another great childhood Christmas memory. Mexico actually sounds pretty good right about now. I’m thinking Cabo.

Li Xin brought back great memories of office parties, white elephant gift exchanges and lava lamps. Ah, lava lamps! I always try to keep a lava lamp on hand. I never plug it in. I just want to be ready for the next gift exchange.

Kenzii Rose had some great advice. When giving someone a gift, try to give something that captures the essence of that person. So, if someone gives you a lava lamp, that means you are??

Luis Hurtado reminded us that if you want to build a radio-controlled airplane it’s not a good idea to seek out help from Grandpa whose heart is in the right place but is old school and works balsa wood and glue. Maybe try a tech-savvy uncle.

And finally, I was able to tell the story about why it’s not a good idea to play Santa unless you are actually older, jolly, have a big white beard and fit into the suit. Otherwise, you may be in for a rough season.

Now, here’s the list for next week:
  • Toastmaster – Karan Bavandi
  • Table Topics Master – Sam Nazarian
  • Speaker #1 – Blake Samuelle
  • Speaker #2 – Lauren Clayton
  • Chief Evaluator – Alex Schams
  • Evaluator #1 – Armando Yee
  • Evaluator #2 – Luis Hurtado
  • Timer – Li Xin
  • Grammarian – Joelle Johnson
  • Ah Counter – TBD
  • Thought for the Day – Laila Aitken
  • Joke Master – Len Kung

The vote has been finalized and our leadership team for the first half of 2021 is in place! It’s definitely an all-star team and I think we’re poised to make Silicon Speech the best club in D1 in 2021!

  • President – Alex Schams
  • Vice President of Education – Steve Evans
  • Vice President of Public Relations – Luis Hurtado
  • Vice President of Membership – Blake Samuelle
  • Treasurer – Steve Evans
  • Secretary – Len Kung
  • Sgt. at Arms – Li Xin
Steve Evans
Secretary / VP Education