Meet a Toastmaster: Julie Kertesz

What has been your journey with Toastmasters?

I was a Toastmaster for 3 years at Monument TM Maryland in 1977-1980 and finished the first manual that had 15 projects at the time. That gave me courage to speak for the rest of my professional life.

I discovered Lewisham Speakers and some other clubs, 10 years ago, when I arrived to live in London from Paris.

In 2016, I created the first online Toastmaster Speciality Club Witty Storytellers Online. I was the Pathways Ambassador in 2015 and remotely joined Virginia club in District 27 to commence Pathways in March 2017.

What prompted you to set up an online club?

In London, I started sharing personal stories within Toastmasters and with Spark London. Then, as President of Lewisham Speakers, created an ongoing Storytelling workshop followed by an High Performance Leadership (HPL) project on conducting Storytelling workshops as Area Governor within all the Area 59 clubs. This resulted in 9 toastmasters sharing their personal stories and getting courage to start the online club.

Witty storytellers Online, now in its 3rd year, is an ongoing personal storytelling lab where we improve our storytelling skills in every meeting, listening and giving feedback, also inviting some specialists for Storytelling and Humor workshops. Am currently serving as the President and Pathways Guide for the club.

What are the goals and challenges that you have set for yourself this year? How are they progressing?

For 2018, my goal was to become a Pathways Guide. In D91, I was named Pathways Ambassador with 10 clubs, and Chief Pathways Guide. I am also serving as the Pathways Guide and Ambassador in March, for Undistricted clubs mostly in Kenya.

Another challenge for me is to continue writing my Pathways Experience blog, (now over 100,000 hits) and also moderate daily the Pathways Discussion Forum on Facebook that was created in 2017.

Do share something about you outside the toastmaster world.

  • Grandmother of five, in my 85th year.
  • Storyteller from 77 year old Standup Comedian having visited 77+ clubs.
  • Blogger for 15+ years now.
  • Photography is my passion with 15 million views on Flickr.

How have you been able to transfer the skills acquired in Toastmasters to your personal life?

More in the other direction, using what I learned in life to Toastmasters. Now my personal life revolves around Toastmasters Online encouraging remote access in London and offering workshops for or through my Toastmaster Tribe. Through Toastmasters, I do not feel lonely as I can share what I have learnt especially in Pathways.

Lastly, when I was feeling low, I finished Thinking Positive Project, and it helped me a lot.

Congratulations on your Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) award! We would love to hear about your experience with Pathways and achieving the award. 

I started my DTM journey as an Ambassador in 2015 for REP (as Pathways was then called). Then having joined the remote club in District 27 and that put my journey on an exponential trajectory. I finished first three paths by end of 2017 and used all occasions to speak in all the clubs near me, in London while sponsoring new clubs.

I have been asked to sponsor a new online club in summer last year and become a remote access club coach in Canada. Forming a small strong team, I launched my DTM Project, Pathway Storyswap inside clubs and districts, using the learning from my first paths. I obtained DTM within Pathways at the end of November 2018.

Please share a takeaway message for toastmaster members who are not sure about taking up leadership roles.

I was requested to take up the role of VP of Membership almost as soon as I joined Lewisham Speakers. Being asked to contribute increased my belongingness to the club.

I hesitated a bit when it came to take on the role of the club President. Pat Johnson, the International President then, came to UK and in her speech said “I just learned how to be”. I realized that we can learn as we go!What a wonderful inspiration. Dare to do and it’s a great learning experience which brings joy when you see others growing.

Pathways, with some of its problems and resolution of them, gave me a new passion and energy. Toastmasters is my Tribe.

Never too late, is the motto of my life and I believe it.