This week’s Faces of Four interview highlights Eugene Chen, District 4 Public Relations Manager. Eugene leads the Enterprise Collaboration program at First Republic Bank, has been in Toastmasters for 3 years, and is an avid half-marathon runner. Let’s take a moment to get to know more about him.
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.).
I found out about the organization in 2009 when a good friend of mine joined the Roller Toasters in San Francisco. I was so envious of her because she always seemed ahead of the curve. I was looking for my first job back then and thought that joining Toastmasters could help me really improve my skills and make me more marketable. The only problem was that I couldn’t work up the courage to finally attend my first meeting…
A few years later in 2013, I was working at First Republic Bank in San Francisco and my company was starting it’s own club. I was stepping into a new role as First Republic’s Community Manager and would be giving a lot of presentations on the value of social collaboration. I still couldn’t speak to save my life so it was now or never. I finally joined.
Fast forward to today, I’ve been in Toastmasters for 3 years, held a variety of club and district leadership roles, competed in numerous speech contests, and am now a member of both First Republic and Cable Car Toastmasters.
2) How has Toastmasters helped you in your professional career?
I went on a public speaking tear in 2014. I competed in the humorous speech contest and ended up winning at the club, area, and division levels before taking 2nd place at the district. Talk about beginner’s luck!
I was so nervous at every level that my friends still make fun of how “on edge” I was at each competition. What I didn’t realize was that each new level helped me develop poise and stay calm under pressure. The day that I competed at the district humorous speech contest also happened to be 4 days before I was scheduled to speak at an Enterprise Collaboration conference in Las Vegas. After taking 2nd place at the district contest, I gave the presentation of a lifetime in Las Vegas and I wasn’t even nervous! True story. After competing against 9 division champions in a humorous speech contest, what’s a presentation in front of a few hundred of my industry peers?
3) What is the best public speaking advice you’ve ever received?
Legendary professional speaker Patricia Fripp once told me that the audience cannot see how you feel, they can only see how you look.
4) What has surprised you the most about yourself since you joined Toastmasters?
That I can actually be a decent speaker. I joined Toastmasters because I could barely get a word out whenever I was asked to speak. Today I speak all the time for work. In this past year I was invited to speak on a panel with several bank executives. They intentionally had me speak last because no one wanted to go after me. Wow! Is this the part where I wake up now?
5) What are your interests and hobbies outside of Toastmasters?
I love half-marathon running. I picked up the sport in 2013 and haven’t stopped since. I’ve run over 20 races to date. From Portland to Seattle to Vancouver back down to Los Angeles and San Diego, I have been all over the map. I find that it’s a great way to stay active and travel. The only challenge has been finding time to train with my ever-busy work schedule.
6) How would you describe the perfect meal?
The perfect meal is actually not about the food per se but rather several things all coming together at once – the right attire (a suit), the right food (steak), the right drink (bourbon), and the right company (that special someone, friends, and/or family).
7) What is a fun fact most people don’t know about you?
I’m an obsessive comic book fan. Growing up, I used to spend hours in comic book stores reading about comic book canon. From Marvel to DC, I love superhero stories. I collected trading cards, I read graphic novels, I watched the TV animated series and more. I don’t really read comic books very much these days but I love Googling about what’s going on with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the DC Extended Universe, Star Wars, Star Trek, and more.
What questions do you have for Eugene? Please leave a comment below.
To learn more about District 4 Toastmasters, check out our website at D4TM.org.