The Laughing Toastmaster: I Can Make You Win…?

Caution: contains information unsuitable for winners

In a world obsessed with winning, I’m glad to say losing is very much alive. I can personally testify to losing jobs, pin numbers, house keys, car keys and so many Toastmaster competitions my self-esteem is lower than Twitter’s reputation.

Yes, it’s competition time at Toastmasters! A time when the Toastmasters Gods (aka Judges) insist on following that silly tradition of, ‘There can only be ONE winner’, leaving the rest of us in Loserville. Worse still, we have to muster up false-smiles and say things like, ‘The important thing is to participate’, ‘It’s all about the learning experience’, when all we want is to go home and cry. Or is that just me?

I hate losing! I hate losing even more than I like winning, which makes me wonder why it keeps happening. There’s only one thing I was happy to lose (at the tender age of 16), and even that was a disappointment! But that’s the case for 99.9% of the world population so I don’t feel too bad about that.

World experts (in THE EVENING STANDARD) claim successful people have what is called a ‘Winning Mentality’. Wow! Is that all? I mean, it’s not like I go around telling myself ‘You’re gonna lose!’, neither do I shout ‘I’m a winner!’ like they suggest. More like I don’t talk to myself. But what do I know? I’m losing.

I better do something before I end up unable to leave home for fear of losing my keys, catching agoraphobia and eventually losing my mind.

I decide to enrol on a three-day event, ‘BE A WINNER!’ with the self-styled winner guru. Three days? A lifetime of losing can be changed in less than it takes an avocado to ripen? I’ve wasted so much time!

I will be able to ‘Unleash My Power Within’. First, I have to ‘Unleash my Credit’ with the bank, because it’s £1000. Expensive, but what’s a little (more) debt when I will also ‘Awaken the Tiger’ in me? Not sure about having wild creatures inside my body, as anyone who’s watched ALIEN will testify.

With hope and anticipation, I get there, READY FOR SUCCESS! I’m thrilled to see 7,000 other losers are there too! It’s like Loser’s Anonymous except we wear nametags:

MY name is SONIA ASTE, and I’m a Winner!

I’m really impressed! The event hasn’t even started and I’ve already achieved it!

MY £1000 pound ticket turns out to be the cheap seats. I’m so far from the stage I could be in another time zone. I hire binoculars (extra £50) and can just about make out a tiny dot on stage informing us that WE ARE ALL SPECIAL!

Tiny Dot explains that once he had been overweight, homeless, jobless, no one loved him, his father in prison, his mother washed other people’s laundry, he suffered from BO, acne, dandruff, halitosis and … didn’t go to The Prom. It’s so sad … I mean not going to your prom??? I cry into my binoculars. But Tiny Dot transformed his life, because:


We are asked to write down WHAT WE WANT TO BE. Middle-aged guy next to me writes down: ASTRONAUT, a petite lady on my right: BASKETBALL PLAYER. Boy!

People are really going for their dreams! I write: WIN THE NOBEL PRIZE (in chemistry, physics, literature, medicine, economics and peace). That should cover it.

Next, Tiny Dot informs us that we have to ‘walk on hot coals’ to conquer our fears. Hot coals? Like in the Spanish Inquisition? Excuse me I’ve just remembered I’ve got athlete’s foot and my GP insisted I didn’t aggravate it.

Binocular Section look at me with disgust and go for it. OK fine! But if being a winner guarantees not burning your tootsies why does everyone look petrified and a medical team is on standby?

One guy ignores all instructions launches into a FRENZIED FIRE CRAWL. Men in white remove him from the premises.

Despite not doing the BARBECUE walk, I still get a CERTIFICATE OF PARTICIPATION.! This includes a 50% discount on the next course: ‘BE A WINNER AMONG WINNERS!’ which I might need because with all this winning, I think I’ve lost the plot.


——— Sonia Aste is a Toastmaster who still considers herself a winner. Catch her in the panel discussion:

And the Winner is … none of these panellists! How to learn, grow and bounce back from losing.

Sunday May 8th District91 Conference 9:45am

——— More from Sonia on her website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram