Pathways Conversations with Julie: Week 2

Pathways Conversations week 2

Dear Julie,

My best memory as a Pathways Guide is of the growth of networking opportunities within and across districts in Australia. We started small with social media groups just for the guides in D70 and D73 – this enabled us to gain valuable social learning with our peers. Then we branched out with a Region 12 Guides and Ambassadors group – in this one we could share further afield from the southern most state of Australia (Tasmania) to the northern most state of Queensland and talk with guides from the west coast in Perth through to South Australia and the east coast states of New South Wales and Victoria.

region 12 FB group

My best memory of a Path is a feeling of pride and elation when that first Path was completed. I had selected Effective Coaching as my first Path, and as you know, it requires a High Performance Leadership project to complete Level 5. Once I had completed all the requirements of the HPL – the project itself (six months of work), the guidance committee and steering committee 360 degree evaluations, and the paper work (well the online clicks in my Transcript), I was able to view my Proficiency Certificate. That was a very proud moment!

certificate of proficiency EC

My best memory of a project was the Write a Compelling Blog! I was eager to tackle this one early and I knew more or less what I had to do even in January when I was still on Level 1. So with a little bit of guidance and help from you I began my series of blog posts on the ‘Pathways Treader’ – a hero’s journey, describing what it felt like to be a Pathways Guide. If I had my time over again I would not have tried to do this in the last 8 days of the month – that was a stretch for me during the summer months in Australia. Once I got started the whole process inspired me to continue, not just 8 posts/chapters but 12 in all.
pathways treader chapter 12

Link to Chapter 12

Pathways Guide Memories

The best memories of the role did not really eventuate until I took on the role of leading a small team of Online Pathways Guides (OPGs) who volunteered their time and energy to supporting the clubs in District U. By then I was more confident with Base Camp and so were the teams – we were in much better shape to help clubs across the world! The network of online Toastmasters was the gene pool from which these OPGs were recruited. Many were immersed in online clubs and/or had been involved as Pathways Guides or Ambassadors in their own districts.

In hindsight, I saw my first efforts as a Pathways Guide for D70 and D73 as the real training ground for what we did next – connecting with Toastmasters in different geographic regions of the world and providing them with the stepping stones to success with Pathways.

As in any leadership learning experience we have been able to implement the lessons learned from previous support strategies and blend them into a new model for providing guidance and mentoring services for the 30+ OPGs. We learned from our early mistakes and polished our skills to a new brightness. One thing I recall as being extremely complex was the task of matching the OPGs with the clubs in District U according to compatible time zones. That task alone took several days of work and my mind was in a spin looking at club meeting times, locations of the OPGs, their languages and any need for French or Spanish speaking guides.

Note: it became crucial to know what club meeting times were in UTC terms so that we could calculate for our own time zones. My best friend was the World Clock Time and Date Conversion site and my computer date and time for current times across the world.

time zones

Dear Readers,

This was my call to action in Chapter 12 of my early posts and it is still the most asked question of me as a Pathways Coordinator. What would you suggest?

comment keyCall to Action

Here is where I need your help!

Please leave a comment below with some ideas on personalizing the support for individual clubs and members in ‘on boarding’ into Pathways.

Next week, Julie and I are looking for your suggestions on what questions we could ask of each other for our Friday blog posts. Look for those in the Toastmasters Pathways Discussion Forum.

Mission Impossible #2

Sequel: ‘Game of Pathways Guides

The story continues in G. R. R. Martin style.

We have traveled a long way from the shire and we are now in fine company of four teams of Online Pathways Guides (OPGs) gathering in Base Camp; House Blue; House Green; House Orange; and House Yellow. It is time for the Orientation meetings and the start of our networking.

Each of the OPGs has researched their kingdoms assigned to them in District U and each are reaching out to contact the leaders within. They have been sharing on ‘the wall‘ and with each other, their planned journeys towards kingdoms of the known world, and now its time for them to meet each other in the cloud at Zoom.

There is palpable energy in our Zoom rooms when the teams attend en masse. We learn from each other our progress so far, and of the innovative strategies we have created to build relationships of trust with our kingdoms. We are the ‘global ground breakers‘ and we travel where no Pathways Guide has gone before. Exotic lands beckon us towards the people of the kingdoms and we step forward with cultural sensitivity. We are sculpting a new regime with brand new ideas and resources; and we have outgrown our ‘shires’.

Together we face the dragons of time zones, conquering their fire and minimizing their threat. We bring in the wonder of the great ‘Doodle Poll‘; whose fine algorithms enable the OPGs to pick and choose their best times to attend upcoming Guide Support Sessions.  We modify our presentations to suit the people and prepare to be flexible.

Just like the heroes in Game of Thrones we begin as childlike characters, but mature rapidly, experiencing a huge gain in problem-solving abilities along the way.  So far the OPGs have overcome great challenges to reach their kingdoms and a few have begun to make their presentations to the people.

We have the great Wizard, George Marshall, a knowing, mystical mentor/teacher and formidable leader of House Blue, providing the OPGs with advice and help. He continues to liaise with the Guardians at WHQ and bring back ‘the word’.

Three awesome leaders Michelle Alba-Lim of House Green, Carole McCulloch of House Orange and Mark Snow of House Yellow empower their teams as they prepare for their travels. A great deal of negotiation happens behind the scenes and their communication skills have just risen another notch. Emails are sharpened and messages are sent; online communication spaces are explored and invitations are sent.

The scene now shifts to the global locations for the OPGs as they make their personal preparations! They download their resources from ‘the wall’ at the Facebook domain and they keep track of their progress in the Google domain. Cultural diversity; geographical locations; languages and customs, of the kingdoms are now being explored. Their task for April and May is to make contact and prepare the clubs in those kingdoms – the Great Rollout is Coming.

Next the OPGs will schedule a series of Virtual Support Sessions using innovative strategies and ensuring that members of clubs in District U are supported.

Reports of success and challenges, experienced by the OPGs will be shared at Online Alliance meetings scheduled for end of May and June. You can self-select to attend at:
Online Alliance easy-speak site

Stay tuned for another ongoing story as together we learn how to Manage Club Visits Successfully for Toastmasters in the cloud.


Mission Impossible #1

Excerpts from ‘Online Pathways Guides Adventures‘.

The story begins in Tolkien style ….

mission impossible 1Coach Carole lives a simple life with her fellow Pathways Guides in the shire, until the wizard George Marshall arrives and convinces her to join a group of volunteers on a quest to support the clubs of District U. The journey takes them both on a path through the complex world of online toastmasters, swarming with social media friends and virtual dragons. The purpose of the project is to provide support to clubs across the world of Toastmasters who are undistricted; ie they do not have a district team.

Potential challenges are identified and approached with wisdom and integrity. The Training Team at World Headquarters (WHQ) are contacted by the wizard George Marshall and convinced that his merry band of adventurers can achieve their mission. George becomes the Pathways Guide Coordinator, as nominated by WHQ, who are delighted to accept this offer of support. Coach Carole devises a vision and a process, through her High Performance Leadership (HPL) project – a framework for achieving the support mission. Carole informs the Online Alliance community of this project, the formation of the Steering Committee and the selection of a Guidance Committee for the HPL.

Together they will build a collaborative international team of online toastmasters who have the experience of Toastmasters leadership, Pathways education program and being a Pathways Guide and/or Ambassador. Two strong Pathways Champions, Michelle Alba-Lim and Mark Snow, are head hunted to join the merry band and become the Steering Committee. A Technology Guru, Graham Cairns, is added to the team – to ensure that ‘all will be well in the shire’ – Graham is added to the Guidance Committee.

Together they gather a band of fearless adventurers, now known as the Online Pathways Guides (OPGs). They search the shire of online toastmasters and send out their invitations to more than 36  likely candidates. Volunteers from across the shire, put up their hands, eagerly saying ‘pick me’.

From the applicants they select 28 and verify with the Training Team at WHQ. Support from WHQ comes in the form of a Virtual Rollout Kit and their permission for the Steering Committee to schedule and deliver Guide Support Sessions.

Then begins the complex task of assigning them to clubs across the world of Toastmasters Clubs in District U. The challenges of the Time Zone dragons are solved one by one and the teams are ready to go. The OPGs are all happily contacting their assigned clubs and scheduling their virtual club visits.

Now the OPGs are grouped into four collaborative shire teams: Harmony OrangeSerene GreenCool Blue and Mellow Yellow, and their team leaders will provide the support and direction that they need.

The Online Pathways Guides Adventure is about to begin! Carole will tell the story, from the project point of view at the Firebirds Collective on March 25 and April 22.

A short report on how to achieve Cross-Cultural Understanding by being an Online Pathways Guide will be delivered by Carole at the Online Alliance meeting on March 26.

Stay tuned for another ongoing story as together we learn how to Manage Projects Successfully for Toastmasters in the cloud.