Toastmasters: Your Leadership MBA
by: Lukas Liebich, DTM
In 2003, the soon-to-be-famous American blogger and author Tim Ferriss flirted with the idea of getting an MBA. He wanted to learn more about investing, had experience from the corporate world and $120,000 to afford it.
$120k might sound a lot – but if you consider it an investment, it would undoubtedly be worth it! So he started exploring the possibilities and checked out some classes at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. When he did that, he noticed that a large portion of the classes was “taught by Ph.D. theoreticians who used big words and lots of PowerPoint slides. One teacher spent 45 minutes on the slide after slide of equations that could be summed up with, “If you build a crappy product, people won’t buy it.” In his book Tools of Titans, Ferriss then adds: “No one needed to prove that to me, let alone drown me in calculus to do so. “
Having an attitude of an experimenter rather than a theoretician (an attitude he would later apply in writing his books “4-Hour Workweek” and “4-Hour Body,” which would catapult him to fame), he decided to do something different instead. He concluded that the best way to learn about investing was not to spend time in the classroom but to start investing. Having already set the $120k aside, he created for himself a “Tim Ferriss Fund.” which would serve him as “play money.” He would use it for his “learning investments.”
The best thing about it is that the vital principle: “Action instead of theory” is not limited to investing. It works for any field you want to learn more about—for example, dear Toastmaster, in Leadership.
Welcome to your Toastmasters Leadership MBA
Toastmasters educational program has many good things going for it; however, one of its weaknesses is that it does not give you any deadlines. Not having deadlines may be good to include “slow learners” and “weekend warriors,” but what about the bright and ambitious who want to use Toastmasters as a springboard to new career opportunities – and who want to do it fast?
If you’re one of them – and you’re just starting in Toastmasters (or are, say, in the first year), this article is for you.
I bet you’ll appreciate that you won’t need $120,000. $90 (a cost of annual membership) might be just enough. Even though, you might want to add some extra club-specific costs and possibly a book on public speaking or two.
The more critical commitment is in the matter of time. We’re not yet in the world of the Matrix when you can “upload” a skill into your brain without any effort. If you want to learn fast, get ready to invest ±10 hours every week for the duration of the program. If it sounds too much, let me tell you that you can achieve a comparable result spreading your effort into five years and spending just 5 hours a week – but wouldn’t that be a waste of time?
What follows is a guide on how you can approach your Toastmasters MBA year, broken down into four quarters. You don’t need to do them entirely in sequence – even though I ordered them in a way that makes the most sense.
Let’s get started!