Posts Tagged ‘Toastmasters’


Tuesday, May 17th, 2022

I will be participating as one of the speakers.

To register, click here:

Click here for the list of talks:

Always Say “Yes”

Sunday, March 25th, 2018


“The way for a man to rise, is to improve himself in every way he can.” Abraham Lincoln

“Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.”  Abraham Lincoln

“Say “‘yes,’ because you never know what an opportunity, no wonder how odd, might bring. ‘No’ closes doors. ‘Yes’ kicks them wide open.” William Shatner, Shatner Rules


Always say “yes” to every opportunity, regardless of how preposterous it may seem. Saying “yes’ always leads to new connections and adventures. New doors fly open. New people are met. New ideas are discovered.

Abe says “Yes”

I believe there were two early incidents in Lincoln’s early life, where he said “yes” to

Lincoln as Lawyer

opportunity that set the course for his life. These decisions enabled him to learn to adapt to the vicissitudes of life and to fearlessly push the envelope of his comfort zone.

1) At the age of 19, Lincoln said “yes,” when asked to take a raft full of goods down the Mississippi to be sold in New Orleans. This was the first and longest trip that Lincoln had ever taken. From his experience operating the boat through obstacles, selling merchandise, and fighting off thieves, he developed a strong sense of self-reliance (Herndon and Weik, Life of Lincoln).

2) Lincoln said “yes” when presented with the opportunity to study law. In learning to defend clients in court, he developed the mental strength, to match the physical skills that he possessed.

“Yes” to Peace Corps

I said ‘yes’ in 1985, and became a Peace Corps Volunteer in Honduras. I quickly learned to adapt to change, especially the first time I felt army ants crawling up my pajama legs. Honduras had its ups and downs. I embraced my teaching job with passion, loved my students, and my experience working in Honduras opened up doors for me later for even more interesting work in other Latin American countries. It even inspired me to write my first book.

“Yes” to Marriage

As an older college student, I said “yes’ to a summer internship at an agricultural research station in central Mexico. At 37 years old, I thought I was the kind of guy who would never get married. I was nervous around women. I thought my ears were too big. But one day, I asked a Mexican secretary for some directions. I mustered up the courage to introduce myself, I said, “Hi. I’m Terry Sprouse and these are my ears.” Unlike me, she was an exceptional conversationalist. A year later, we both said “yes” to matrimony, and embarked on a thrilling adventure together.

“Yes” to Toastmasters

Saying ‘yes’ to join Toastmasters super charged my aspirations to be a writer and speaker. I have published 5 books, each one based on speeches that I gave at Toastmasters meetings and the invaluable feedback that I received from fellow Toastmasters.

Captain Kirk Connects the Dots

To quote William Shatner, the venerable Captain of the Starship Enterprise,

 I nearly always say “yes.”

“Yes” makes the dots in your life appear. And if you’re willing and open, you can

William Shatner

connect these dots. You don’t know where these dots are going to lead, and if you don’t invest yourself fully, the dots don’t won’t connect. The lines you make with these dots always lead to interesting places. (Shatner Rules, 2011.)

Phoenix or Bust

Just a few weeks ago, my wife wanted to go to Phoenix to hear the Mexican female band, Flans. The performance was

scheduled for Saturday at 8:00 pm. I generally don’t like sprawling cities like Phoenix, much less at night. Phoenix is congested, polluted and crime infested, just like in the movie Blade Runner, at least in my own caffeinated mind. I felt queasy about going to Phoenix.

“I have decided, in my infinite wisdom, to go with you to the concert,.” I said to Angy.

“That’s great, O self-inflated one. Bring ear plugs and steel-tipped shoes, because I’ll be doing a lot of screaming and jumping up and down,” she said.

“And I will be the one sitting, quiet as a mouse, next to you, emitting positive

Foreboding Phoenix

vibrations,” I said.

Even though it was outside my comfort zone, I went. And guess what? My ears are still ringing.

Yet, I met some extremely interesting people, I never ever would have met otherwise. I even met an old Peace Corps friend, and most importantly my wife was happier than a tornado in a toupee factory.

I said “yes,” and the dots connected.

Is it just me, or is someone’s phone ringing?


Upcoming Pesentations:

April 14, 2018. “Publish or Perish.” Pen to Podium Toastmasters. Hardesty Center, 1100 S. Alvernon. Tucson, AZ, 9:00 am.

June 5, 2018. “How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds and Funny Bones.” Arizona Society for Professional Hypnosis. Scottsdale Senior Community Center,1700 North Granite Reef Road, Meeting Room 7, Scottsdale, AZ, 6:30 pm.

October 20, 2018. How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds and Funny BonesPrescott Valley Public Library (7401 E. Civic Circle), 1:00 – 2:00 pm. Prescott, AZ.


Amazon Link


Related Links

Like Abe Lincoln, Be Prepared with a “Quip” or a Bit of Humor

Emulate Abraham Lincoln: Make Each Day Count

The “Secret” Daily Affirmations of Abraham Lincoln

Always greet everyone, no matter what they look like

Employ an Affable Lincolnesque Persona

Be a Generous Listener, as Abe Lincoln Was

Deflect Criticism with Self-deprecating Humor

Be a Master of Disaster – Ponder the big picture

Nourish humor and tell stories, so people say — “I felt like I had known him/her my whole life and we had long been friends.”


Always greet everyone, no matter what they look like

Monday, December 25th, 2017


“In ten minutes I felt as if I had known him (Abraham Lincoln) all my life. He had the most wonderful faculty I have ever seen in a man to make one feel at ease.” A New York gentleman, from Rufus Rockwell Wilson, Intimate Memories of Lincoln.

“Lincoln greeted me cordially as though we had known each other for a long time. He knew men on the instant.” William O. Stoddard, journalist.

“Lincoln always manifested interest in everybody with whom he associated. When you first met him and studied him he impressed you with being a very sad man and a very kind man. He struck you as being a man who would go out of his way to serve you. There was about him a sense of self-abnegation.” John H. Littlefield, law clerk in the Lincoln-Herndon law office.

“Mr. Lincoln shook hands with me in his kindly way, and the direct simplicity and naturalness of his bearing were then and still remain the exact impression upon me of his daily manner. There was a natural courtesy and real interest shown toward me, with nothing of patronage or condescension.” Charles S. Zane, law student.

“The handshake of the host, affects the taste of the roast.” Ben Franklin

Who was the last stranger that you greeted and shook hands with?

Meeting strangers can be a scary proposition. We don’t know who they are. They might think differently than us, or even be hostile. We may not like them. They may not like us. And of course, Mom always told us, “Never talk to strangers.”

Yet, Abraham Lincoln greeted everyone, without fear, as documented in the above quotations. He was interested in people. He had a desire to help people. As followers of Lincoln we too are obligated to greet all people that enter our lives.

Practicing to Meet and Greet

Recently, I was participated in a Toastmaster Area Humorous Speech Contest. My goal

Confederate and Union soliders shake hands in 1930

in attending was to win the Contest. However, my secondary goal was to apply Lincoln Affirmation #1 (see The ‘Secret’ Daily Affirmations of Abraham Lincoln) and to shake hands and greet the 30 people attending the event. Throughout the event, I walked up to every person I didn’t know and said, “Hi I’m Terry Sprouse. I don’t think we’ve met.” I met 26 of the attendees. I only missed four people who came in late.

I admit I felt a bit like a stalker. After greeting someone, I would casually gaze around the room looking for my next victim. I struck mostly before the meeting began and during the break. My strategy was to choose people who were preferable alone. My second choice was people in groups where I already knew at least one person, then I would pick off the others in the group one by one. The easiest ones were when someone sat near me during the ceremony. “Hi I don’t think we’ve met.” They were like unsuspecting flies caught in my spider web.

Princess Diana greeting AIDS patient

The hardest one was, Juan Mendoza, who I hadn’t met before. I saw him talking to someone at the registration table. Just as I walked up to meet him he walked away. I followed him, like an Africanized bee following my prey, across the room, where he was engaged in another conversation. As he left that conversation, in my exuberance, I jumped in front of him and blocked his path. I blurted, “Hi I’m Terry Sprouse, I don’t think we’ve met.” I probably seemed a little too eager, but Juan took it in stride and shook my hand.

While I did not win the speech contest, I did have a radiant feeling of success because I was able to greet almost everyone and accomplish the goal I had set for myself, through a spiritual link with the Illinois Rail Splitter.

Mission (pretty near) accomplished!

Shaking Lions’ Paws

A few days later, I attended two more meetings. One was at The Lion’s Club, where afriend had invited me to attend a meeting, and later I attended the Toastmaster Division Speech Contest.

Matin Luthor King and LBJ shake hands

At The Lions Club I introduced a new wrinkle into my quest to meet people, I wrote down the name of everyone that I met. I was a hand-shaking machine, and easily met almost everyone there, since they conveniently greeted me, often before I could greet them. I had about a 95% completion rate at Lion’s Club, for the 50 people in attendance.

Another Crack at Toastmasters

At my next meet and greet effort, the Toastmaster Division Speech Tournament, I got only 16 out of about 42, or 38% completion. But, that low showing was because I arrived later than I planned to. Even though I only greeted 16 new people, that’s still 16 more than if I had made no effort.

What happens to these names, you ask?

I transfer the names of all new acquaintances to my Abe Lincoln “Make Each Day Count” Daily Logbook where the names, along with any useful information about these persons, is safely stored for future reference.

As William Butler Yeats said, “There are no strangers here; only friends you haven’t yet met.”

Your arrival will always be greeted with excitement


Upcoming Pesentations:

October 20, 2018. How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds and Funny Bones. Prescott Valley Public Library (7401 E. Civic Circle), 1:00 – 2:00 pm. Prescott, AZ.





Related Links

Employ an Affable Lincolnesque Persona

Emulate Abraham Lincoln: Make Each Day Count

The “Secret” Daily Affirmations of Abraham Lincoln

Like Abe LIncoln, Be Prepared with a Quip or Bit of Humor

Be a Generous Listener, as Abe Lincoln Was

Abe Lincoln and Inner Guidance – stay close to the “cave of the winds”