The latest Faces of Four interview highlights Ken Cawley, DTM. Ken is our Past District 4 Governor, Past International Director, current District 4 Chief Ambassador for Pathways, Toastmasters’ revitalized education program. However, he is probably most famously known for being our District 4 Webmaster. Let’s take a moment to get to know the man behind D4TM.org.
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 have been a Toastmaster since 1990. I first joined a company club, Ampex Toastmasters after one of my staff badgered me for months about much it would help my training presentations. (He was more than right.) When the Ampex club closed in 1992 due to company downsizing, I joined High Spirits of Toastmasters in Belmont. After two years of focusing on technical and business related presentations, being in a community club like High Spirits with its warm supportive atmosphere, gave me the freedom to explore other types of speeches, take more risks and have fun with my speeches. I have joined a number of other clubs over the years, but kept my membership with High Spirits even when unable to attend after moving from the area.
How has Toastmasters helped you in your professional career?
Along with the benefit of improving my training presentations, Toastmasters has helped me in numerous ways. The one that made the greatest impact was applying the leadership development Toastmasters offers to my role as a manager. Through my various district leadership roles, as volunteers do not take well to being “managed,” I learned to lead by inspiring and motivating team members.
What is the best public speaking advice you’ve ever received?
The best speeches are conversations with your audience.
I read the quote in a Dale Carnegie book after accepting a position as a technical trainer. At the time, public speaking petrified me enough that I was considering backing out of accepting the job. While the quote was about what makes a good speech, I used it to help me with my fear of public speaking. I decided public speaking couldn’t be too bad as long as I thought of it as a conversation. Turning the quote on its head worked and, to this day, I find I am most comfortable when I approach my speeches as a conversation. And, as the quote asserts, they typically are my best speeches.
What has surprised you the most about yourself since you joined Toastmasters?
When I joined Toastmasters I hadn’t anticipated was the added benefit of leadership development the program provides. I had been a manager for a number of years, but knew every little about leadership. Service leadership proved to be something that resonated with me and that I fully embraced. It and the leadership opportunities I’ve experienced through Toastmasters have been life changing at both a personal and professional level.
What are your interests and hobbies outside of Toastmasters?
I spend what seems like every spare moment working on my house. Since buying the house, with the help of my grandkids, I have built a deck and pergola, installed hardwood flooring, upgraded a bathroom, converted the garage into an “in laws apartment,” and done countless other projects. While it seems never-ending, I get great joy from working on the house with the kids.
How would you describe the perfect meal?
My daughter is a “foodie” and over the years she has introduced me to many amazing restaurants in LA and the Bay Area. Each meal we’ve had could be considered the perfect meal. But what I really consider the perfect meal is one with friends and family. A simple BBQ with loved ones beats any gourmet meal (unless of course you can share that gourmet meal with your loved ones.)
What is one thing most people don’t know about you?
There are actually two things, the first I occasionally use in my workshop intros. During the dot com boom, I had the lead in a national commercial. Anyone who remembers the CNET commercials will know why I kept my day job. At the time, a USA Today poll placed them at the top of their most hated commercials list. The second, I am not sure I have told many members since I gave my Ice Breaker in 1990. Prior to changing my career path to engineering, I was studying to be a minister. What prompted the change was the abject fear I had of public speaking at the time. While giving what my first presentation in Speech 101, I hyperventilated and almost passed out. Obviously, hyperventilating in front of a congregation is a bit of a deal breaker for a preacher so I dropped out of the program and went to an engineering school.
Ken has been instrumental to District 4 and Toastmasters International after many years of dedicated service. He also has been made huge contributions to the upcoming Fall conference through our public website d4tm.org. Come say hi to Ken this November 12th at the conference.
What questions do you have for Ken? Please leave a comment below.