The Faces of Four interview series showcases the journeys and stories of District 4 Toastmasters and leaders. We are very excited to feature our Club Growth Director, Stefanie Chow!
1) Tell us a little about your Toastmasters career (e.g. How long have you been with the organization, what clubs do you belong to, what made you join, etc.).
My Toastmasters journey started in August 2013 shortly after graduating from college in San Diego to expand my personal and professional network. I’ve been blessed with a series of wonderful mentors, who have encouraged me as I competed twice at the District level of the International Speech Contest, served as an Area Director and mentored Twilio Toastmasters. I’m currently a proud member of Rhino Business Toastmasters in the San Francisco Financial District.
2) How has Toastmasters helped you in your professional career?
I joined Toastmasters to make more professional connections, but I never expected this magnitude of networking. I enjoy attending Toastmasters meetings, contests, trainings, conferences and other events outside my home club because of the variety of people that I meet. I’ve gained so much insight and perspective from people outside of my own industry, which has helped me become more creative in my problem-solving and become a stronger superconnector in my network.
3) What is the best public speaking advice you’ve ever received?
In many different ways, I’ve always been told, “Be yourself.” My biggest challenge in public speaking has been aligning my “stage” self with how I naturally act and speak “offstage.” I can sound scripted and guarded with my emotions, and I have recently learned how to be more vulnerable and personal with the stories that I share in my speeches. The stronger connection I build with my audiences, the more I am encouraged to continue pushing past the discomfort and truly learn how to be myself onstage.
4) What has surprised you the most about yourself since you joined Toastmasters?
When I was elected Club President of Rhino Business Toastmasters, I was surprised to feel pushed out of my comfort zone. While I’m comfortable giving prepared speeches, I’m accustomed to being behind the scenes when it comes to leadership. After all, my career is event planning. The thought of being an inspirational leader at the forefront intimidated me, but working with my team to strengthen our club has been an excellent learning experience and in many ways prepared me for my current role as Club Growth Director.
5) What are your interests and hobbies outside of Toastmasters?
Since junior high school, I’ve always loved being involved in volunteering and professional development. I’m currently a shelter and advocate volunteer for Freedom House, a safehouse for human trafficking survivors. I’m also heavily involved in Meeting Professionals International, an industry association for meeting and event professionals. Outside those extracurriculars, I enjoy exploring craft breweries, watching Broadway musicals and occasionally performing stand-up comedy!
6) How would you describe the perfect meal?
For me, a perfect meal is all about having great company and great conversation. Both of those things can make food taste better! If I’m eating out at a restaurant, I value excellent customer service because it tells me about the culture of the workplace, just as I notice the way members and officers treat guests that walk through the doors of their Toastmasters club. I’m also an avid Yelper, so the perfect meal is what I would give five stars.
7) What is one thing most people don’t know about you?
Often times, I find myself sharing the fact that I work from home, and the majority of people I see in-person are Toastmasters. In that respect, Toastmasters are my colleagues and friends, and I feel lucky being able to surround myself with people who are focused on developing themselves. This drives my passion for what I do in Toastmasters as a leader, because for me, there is no better reward than knowing I’m helping to grow those colleagues and friends.
To learn more about District 4 Toastmasters, check out our website D4TM.org