How to stay winning as a millennial leader

On several accounts, leadership has been associated with maturity and age. It’s been said, ‘With age, comes wisdom.’ but do we grasp that idiom in it’s true sense? I believe that society has approved routes to leadership based on ‘who’ drew the map. I mean, a leadership principle from John Maxwell or Barack Obama (no matter how ‘shallow’ it may be) it is still considered more profound than Andrew Tsuro’s; right?

Developing a winning mindset as a millennial leader is key in you becoming a winning millennial leader. What does winning mean to you?

One of the arena’s I use to practice my millennial leadership is at Toastmasters. This is where I believe to have successfully developed a winning mindset. In every leadership position I have served in, it has been my mission to be the best there is. How did i develop the winning mindset?

1. I stayed true to my personality.

I am a naturally enthusiastic, energetic and jovial person. I did not try to be something opposite – lest I got trapped in my “fake” appearances. Sometimes leaders are encouraged to be cool, calm & collected for them to be respected. I tried it at some point; I failed the people I served!

2. I did what excited me.

Who wants to be dull and boring when doing something as challenging as leadership? Certainly not me! I found myself involved in projects that excited me. They brought out the life in my role.In turn, my teams acknowledged it and got excited too! In many cases, we succumb to the pressures of the role and ‘do what has to be done’ to tick boxes; it’s draining!

3. I was inclusive.

As a millennial, the quick anticipated approach would be that I only consider ideas that come from my peers… they understand “how we do things” nowadays. However, I am in the leadership roles to learn and be a great leader. We live in a world overflowing with racism, sexism & ageism among many other discriminating factors. I strive to be one who goes against these. I strive to build people together. I am a sucker for unity, alliances and successful teamwork!

With these 3 decisions, I believe I have become a winning millennial leader and i continue to thrive as an influential young leader! I appreciate organizations that have recognized me for this pursuit, e.g LEAD excellence awards.

Stop it, I like it? – Receiving Compliments

I strongly believed I loved the limelight. I sometimes still believe i do. However, there is one real challenge I have. I really, and genuinely struggle to handle compliments. Especially when done in person. It makes me greatly uncomfortable.

This is a real challenge for me because I also tend to be a an “over achiever” I love to win. I want to be the best, and never second best. With achievement, comes compliments! How do I handle this?

For the past few years, the solution was to sensor and avoid them. As soon as I guessed a compliment was coming, I would immediately rudely interrupt and change the course of the conversation. I am sure many times I have gotten it wrong. For the times i suspected right, I was often overpowered. This left me uneasy and unsure of how to react. “Thank you” was just enough for a minute-long compliment.

Have you ever been in position were you are over showered with praises, somewhat intentionally? This happened to me recently. I was at the Southern African `#iCon conference for Toastmasters in Southern Africa. On arrival, I was receiving congratulatory messages for the success of the Division I was leading. The following day, there was a top up. I was now being complimented of my nomination and consequently the election for the Public Relations Manager in Southern Africa. As if that was not enough, I was nominated in various Hall of Fame awards and won a couple. The spotlight was on me. It was too bright for me. I felt the attention was too much. After all, I was doing what I committed to do, maybe with a little more enthusiasm, that’s all.

It was tough for me. It was uncomfortable. In many instances,I felt the need to hide away and not be among people. Obviously, at a conference of such magnitude, you cannot hide much. Nevertheless, I survived the overwhelming congratulatory messages. The turning point was my dad’s message. The message was tear jerking so much that i did not wink at the suggestion to accept and receive the compliments. I had to face my demons. I had to learn to say, “Thank you” with gratitude and grace.

I don’t how you handle compliments and gratitude. However you do it, “let people acknowledge you” said a dear colleague. “Don’t make it our problem that you don’t like compliments! Give thanks and allow them the opportunity to be grateful.”

It is for this reason that I am working on my “insecurities” – when will you start working on your own?

Would you like to be on top of the world?

Go for it!

It may be tough, tiring and traumatic, but if that is what you want, do it!

I believe many people wish to be on top of the world, well, at least the people in my circles. Me too!

I had my first experience of going on top of the world recently. The hike up Table mountains for me was a hectic hike. I made it on top of the world.

The video below gives a first hand experience what the journey felt like and how it felt to be on top of the world.

Reemember: Go for it!

It may be tough, tiring and traumatic, but if that is what you want, do it!

Letter to 2017 – All I remember

I remember.

I remember you and I making a commitment. A commitment to giving it our all. I remember the “pursuit of the hall of fame.” No excuses, only results. 2017 would be on sale. Only the earliest (and smartest) bird would catch the fattest worm.

Do you remember? I told you I wanted to be in the hall of fame. I wanted to break the records. 2017 would be a year to remember. I would accept opportunities, embrace each challenge and of course, celebrate each achievement. I remember singing The Script‘s, “Hall of Fame” in good and trying times. I remember feeling rejuvenated afterwards.

Do you remember? I turned 21 and suddenly felt like I had become ‘the man.’ I remember receiving your beautiful messages and well wishes. I remember how I felt reading them. I remember how they shaped the rest of the year. Not so long after receiving them, I remember receiving two “job offers” Both opportunities would undoubtedly change my lifestyle. I remember trusting my 21-year -old gut. First opportunity accepted. A career in business development  and training was going to stretch Andrew in relating with the corporate world, and develop a more in-depth understanding of the training industry. JHJ Training offered me that opportunity.  Do you remember the “Business Development time” check – ins? That was me at work. I cherish the relationships I have built with some of the corporate leaders in HR, Training and Development in SA!

Do you remember? I ticked my Toastmasters goal leading the Centurion & Midrand clubs (Area A1) to becoming a the first Distinguished Area. I remember the feeling. A proud moment. I remember the men and women who were instrumental in this milestone.  I remember this milestone leading me to the Hall of Fame. Area Director of the Year 2017. I remember it being a big deal to me and a  select-few. For me, it was quite significant. Out of approximately 50 illustrious leaders (all older than me) in the whole of Southern Africa, i stood out. I had not disappointed those who had a hand in appointing me for that role. Shortly after that award, was a resounding and overwhelming election for the Division Director role, leading Pretoria, Centurion & Midrand – 26 branches in total! I remember the euphoria that broke in that tense room as the chairman declared my election. There are proud moments, but that was humbling and overwhelming, possibly my most memorable moment in my Toastmasters career. Lest we forget, not so long after, the Distinguished Toastmaster award finally came through. Do you remember the article published by the Centurion Rekord of this achievement? I remember that interview. Ever since then, my Toastmasters career has been fulfilling and rewarding.

Of all happenings in 2017, do you remember when brand, “Andrew Tsuro” came out of the box! I don’t. However, I remember some of the effects of this brand coming out. I remember MCing the heated FASSET AGM & Year End function. I remember speaking at the Southern Africa Administrators Forum Conference & the Remuneration Association of Educational Institution Conference. Large audiences and spectacular stage-time.  I remember the invitation to speak, MC and facilitate training/workshops at special events. I remember the wonderful reception and constructive feedback. Every moment on stage was like heaven on earth.

While I would love to have you remembering my achievements over the 2017 year, you may not recall the joy I had at that moment. I would, however, love to share more marvelous moments with you in 2018. In 2018, we will be standing in the Hall of Fame. The pursuit was successful. In this pursuit, there are a few unsung heroes that have been working behind the scenes:

  1. Michael Shackleton; for his unwavering support and unquestionable vote of confidence in me. Each time I heard of his kind words towards me, I remember feeling appreciated and celebrated.
  2.  Taffy Chifamuna; the one who has been an invaluable ear, supporter and helper. I remember every time he sent that greeting and that offer for help. It was unreal, but he showed up each time i needed help and he made it happen. Bless you.
  3. Raymond Schoonraad; some of the defining moments in my brand build up were from his reference, for that he is greatly appreciated.
  4. Barbra Muzata; the one who has been a strong fighter against the inner doubtful voice inside me. She gave me the guts. She made time for my development. She challenged me. She made me laugh, no doubt, I remember that, and I appreciate your contribution.
  5. Mduduzi Mthanti. The constant supporter and humble reference of what I do. I appreciate the humble but motivating chats that got me pushing – even when the going was tough. It was not often, but the few times we chatted, counted. May his hustle be blessed!
  6. Monde Mjila; the one who always sung praises, even though most of them sounded no different to flattery. I appreciate Monde for his appreciation of my work, my contribution and efforts. I felt like an asset to the events and circles we shared.
  7. Last but not least, Philip Combrinck. One reason I love my work is because i get to spend the day with a character that I admire. Philip is engaging, inviting and accommodating. While I learn a lot  from our conversations, i think I appreciate him more for putting up with me and 101 other commitments (even though he may not support them) I thank him for the admirable working relationship we share.

I remember. I remember that the above seven were not the only role players in my success. They were the most uncelebrated. I remember each one who crossed my path, left a breeze of new ideas, ways and paths. I remember.

Happy 2018!

Giving evaluations impacts my speaking skills!

I’m gradually understanding the correlation between speaking and evaluations. Over time, I have come to believe that the ability to give evaluations impacts your speaking skills. The two have a positive correlation.

In my books, it is questionable how one can be a spectacular speaker but is a poor speech evaluator. While I have been subconsciously mentoring many Toastmasters through giving evaluations, I have also instinctively impacted my speaking skill. The skills developed as an evaluator are critical skills required as a speaker.

On the 28th of November, I was at Pretoria Tshwane Toastmasters Club where I was asked to evaluate an Advanced Speaker on a Persuasive Speech project. The speaker was superb, had almost all the elements of a great speaker, but as we say it in Toastmasters, ‘there ain’t no such thing as a perfect speech,’ I had to find opportunities for development! Who knew that that speech evaluation would lead me to being voted the best evaluator?

This is when I was convinced my giving evaluations has positive impact on my speaking because:

In both cases, listening is imperative. When giving feedback, you ought to listen critically to your speaker and their speech. Similarly, as a speaker, you ought to be listening to your audience’s reaction to your speech all the time. When you don’t listen, as an evaluator, you do not give an objective opinion; and as a speaker, you lose your audiences attention.

Secondly, you may want to be relevantly positive and constructive. I highlight relevantly because at time we exaggerate our positivity. It becomes insincere and less authentic. As an evaluator, you lose your credibility when you give insincere feedback, while as a speaker if you are negative, you lose your authenticity. This is a key element as a speaker and evaluator.

Last but not least, be engaging and personal. This calls you to use phrases like, “I felt; I thought; I heard; I saw…” Personalized messaging is key in giving your evaluation and not making it feel offensive to the speaker. In addition, I’d recommend engaging the speaker with follow up phrases such as, “Did you also notice/feel/hear…?” That way, you engage the speaker to reflect and be in the moment with you. You subtly manipulate them to see it the way you did. As a speaker, it is equally essential to be personal and engaging. Speaking of your experiences builds an element of trust as you open up to the audience while engaging questions/phrases are inviting to the audience in your speech.

There are many other skills that are mutually beneficial as a speaker and speech evaluator. I believe it is valuable to continue exercising the skills for ultimate performance on stage. As I continue to mentor and help people give impactful presentations, I share more attributes of speaking that yield results whether you are pitching for a deal or you are inspiring an audience, you need these skills.

For any further engage me on email: booking@andrewtsuro.com

Polish your Presentation Skills, Senior Government officials are coming!

A client was hosting senior government officials this past week. It was time for the scientific personalities to polish their presentation skills.Their Communications and Industry Affairs Leader called me the week prior to come in again to coach their scientists to put up their A-game for the senior government officials. I did this before prior to the launch of this hub and quite frankly, I was honored to make an impact again! Their facilities are spectacular, so are the scientific minds there! When I first met the people, I was feeling less educated until I realized we all have our strengths, and mine was definitely presentation skills transfer! We had the first dry run of their presentations and while they did this, I felt there was not synergy in their circuit presentations. That was my cue. Here are some highlights of what I shared with them: In every presentation

Know your audience:

Who will you be speaking to? What is their level of knowledge? What are their interests? When you know this, it helps you tailor your message to the specific purpose and person. They were going to be presenting to the senior government officials, which meant that all the technical & scientific jargon had to be toned down. You want to speak to them, not just utter words in the open ear. How much do they know about what you are sharing. Identify what they know already and then introduce them to new information. Keep it short and simple. For as example, as it would be great to know that the mantis religiosa has become a deadly bug, you may lose your audience with that. Consider replacing that name for the scientist and when speaking to the ministers use praying mantis.

Know your theme:

Why are you presenting? What will you be presenting on? This is important because with the 6 circuit presentations, we had to look at a tying them, e.g. “Simple, Affordable & Fast” This meant that all the presentations had to carry the underlying theme of the techno being “simple, affordable & fast” Consequently, if you were speaking on “The Research Processs” the idea was to position the process as a ‘simple, affordable and fast’ approach. In this case, the speaker was to  inform the audience of their ‘simple, affordable & fast’  research process. See how even in my writing, this concept has been repeated in writing.In your Speaking, There is power in repetition. Like in a song, the chorus is crucial in the message sticking in their minds. Last but not least,

Enthusiasm is essential

Scientists and personality – what say you, nerdy? When we started, one of the delegates was very adamant in the way he presented. He stood there like a frozen statue and cruised all the way through their presentation. I felt he could have a more engaging stage presence and body language. It took an exercise with one of his colleagues to alter his mindset in a flash! The ‘before and after’ image there was very vivid and surprising considering the time frame it happened.

Enthusiasm when presenting is commanding, attention grabbing and reciprocal! It communicates confidence & warrants respect. I’d encourage  you to incorporate it, you’d be surprsed how much impact it will have on your presentation. If you don’t know how to, contact me!

When you are the MC of an Executive AGM: Tips

When you are the Master of Ceremonies (MC) it is your responsibility to keep you audience informed, entertained and ultimately inspired if you ask me. The 21st of September found me excited and exhilarated to be the MC for the 17th Finance and Accounting Service Sector Education & Training (FASSET) Annual General Meeting.
This was no ordinary event. The Executive Board and over 150 stakeholders from all across the borders of the Rainbow nation were present. The Rainbow nation very well represented by the diversity of all the ethnic groups in South Africa. For me, a Zimbabwean, it was a nice challenge to tackle; speaking to a man in his own language. This was not my only challenge! Two is better than one right? The AGM was set out to be unpredictable as a number of the stakeholders were unhappy and unsettled by the annual reports. For the first time in years, FASSET unfortunately had an unqualified audit which saw some their senior management team being suspended among many other actions. In a nutshell, there was a layer of tension hovering around. When you are the Master of Ceremonies (MC) it is your responsibility to keep you audience informed, entertained and ultimately inspired if you ask me. Here are a few techniques I used to look good. You can employ them too.

1. Expressively greet them all in their language.

I had learned the greeting (and proper pronunciation) of the official greetings in the 11 official languages of South Africa. Take note, greet them expressively. This meant delightfully greeting them with gestures and an open arms to welcome. A little charisma and charm can get you the jovial ululations which give you the much needed confidence to know you have broken the ice.

2. Make all of them feel special.

Intelligently introduce them. As I introduced the Board, I had short one-liners or words to make them feel extra special. The gentlemen need to take their chests out and the ladies need to blush a little then you know, you have done a good job. I said intelligently; I would recommend you do it with your unique taste and not the usual generic way like you are going through the alphabet which they already know. It must be something the audience must anxiously anticipate. Once you succeed with that, don’t forget the general audience. In my case I still had high ranking stakeholders, but I couldn’t go through them all. However, everyone can do with a compliment. For me, it was in reminding them of the awesome role they play to keep the organization going, and, there is no AGM without the quorum of stakeholders! With that, I got a little laughter and an affirming applause!

3. Relate your commentary, humor and quotes to the situation.

In my preparation, I asked the organizer to send me the Talking points of the CEO & Chairman. That way, I could subtly pre-empt what the next speaker would say and call back easily after their address. You could take it a notch higher and relate it to the next speaker. It is like a drama or soapie, moving from one episode to another. This made me look wiser during the event, and like any other person on stage, the ‘aha’ moments and the applauses go a long way in rejuvenating the energy!

With these 3 main elements, I believe I made my mark and kept it professional and in my case, left the stakeholders feeling hopefulThe feedback I received from both the Chairman and CEO left me more confident i had passed the challenge. A snippet of the feedback shared below is testament to that statement I shared earlier, when you are the Master of Ceremonies (MC) it is your responsibility to keep you audience informed, entertained and ultimately inspired if you ask me.

– The poise, preparation & delivery to handle such an important Board meeting. Fantastic & Well done
– Enthusiastic & Dynamic guy
– Cool, calm and collected, such confidence

I don’t know about you, but I am content with this feedback. Onto the next assignment, yours? Confirm your booking via email: booking@andrewtsuro.com

Resilience in Leadership: The engine that keeps you going!

“Our greatest strength lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall!”

Emerson’s words are a must know for every leader. The leadership journey is never a straight stretch! I have experienced this myself. As you travel, you will realize unexpected curves which slow you down, pot holes that leave you punctured and as if that is not enough, a thick frosty fog ahead that wants you to stop. Dear driver, unless your vehicle has the engine of resilience, you will not get anywhere

I suppose it’s easier said than done right? I have a few sharings for you about this engine.

Firstly, it’s not going to be cheap. This engine is going to take you through the toughest time. It is not going to be easy to acquired. You will for sometime feel like just giving up and giving in. Don’t be fooled! Like they say, quality is priceless, to get to your destination, you will have to feel the pinch! At some point in time, I was not realising results in my work. My ever so caring colleague sat me down and in not so many words told me to keep at it and not feel despondent! “In fact, put in more effort than before. Don’t feel sorry for yourself,” he said. Here I was thinking he had no idea what I was going through, I don’t even have the strength to go on, now I must put more effort? He must be insane, focus on something else.

Second lesson, be very sure that your GPS is focussed on your destination. There is nothing as reckless as buying the best engine for a vehicle that is beating the bush. Stay focussed. Be resilient in the right direction of your journey. Be careful to be hell bent on an incorrect ideology. Avoid repeating the same mistake and being twice shy. The hole you fall in today, should not be the hole you fall in tomorrow or the day before. Fall in a new hole toward your destination. “Andrew, when you present a proposal, let that not be the last time you make contact. Follow up!” My colleague kept on repeating these words like a broken record, and I kept on with my ways like a deaf man. I was resilient in not following up. Needless to say, I still did not see results, until one time where I decided to follow up. No, I did not get the deal then, in fact, It got another block!

Third lesson, never run out of fuel and give up on the journey. Your are on the journey to get somewhere, and you have one goal, to get there. If along the way, you run out of strength, it is okay. Take a nap, rejuvenate and then continue. After I had gotten another block on my proposal, I was ready to throw in the towel. I didn’t understand why after all the effort, I wasn’t getting my breakthrough? My colleague reminded me that sometimes we turn back on the just close to our breakthrough. Hence, don’t give up, keep going. You are almost there!

Leader, keep driving your team, with a resilient engine, a focussed pursuit and never give up. A leader draws his respect from taking people where they never thought they would get to!

Is Speaking for you?

According to Warren Buffett, public speaking is the one skill that once mastered can raise your value by 50 percent. However, many a times when I facilitate Presentation Skills training, I encounter resistance  because public speaking is uncomfortable for a lot of people, executives included.  One incident comes to mind where an executive said to me when we met, “I don’t do these presentations, speaking in public is not for me!”  Do you also feel that speaking in public is not for you? You will be glad to know that you are not alone. I have put together a few guidelines to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

  1. Work with a competent coach to identify your speaking style. This includes delivering a few    presentations and speeches. You will not be perfect in your delivery the first time around, but each session will lead to improved delivery and some insight of your style.
  2. Honestly recognize your strengths & be open to constructive criticism. This will help you grow.
  3. While you are at it, be enthusiastic and embrace your new adventure. “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve!”

So, is speaking in public for you?

YES! You know you need to improve your public speaking skills as powerful, persuasive presentation skills will give you a competitive edge. Let me help you to identify your speaking style and let us work together to get you confident in front of any audience before you. Make that decision, today!

What do you know?

Have you ever found yourself among “experienced experts” and as you tried to give an opinion, they all turn to you to ask, “What do you know?” I have had my fair shares of “What do you know’s?” In 2006, at age, 10, a grade 5 pupil found himself in a public speaking audition against predominantly older, seemingly more proficient pupils in grade 7 (12-year- olds) who had been qualified as experienced experts in the field of public speaking. Innocently, I eagerly raised my hand to offer a suggestion to one of the speakers and all the pupils turned to me with the question…” What do you know?” Needless to say, it was a crushing experience, but if you know Andrew, you will remember that he is inspired by the people who believe in him, and motivated by those who do not. This experience was the beginning of a public speaking career which led me to be the youngest representative of our school against 20 other pupils at a city school’s finals.From then on, public speaking became my hobby, my passion and my area of confidence! Year in,year out, I was entering my name for contests. In many cases, I was not invited even to audition. I felt inadequate, but I kept on putting my name down whenever opportunities presented themselves. I remember in 2010, I put my name down. Auditioned with my class mates who most of them never felt threatened to have me as a competitor. In fact, they were seemingly glad I was in the contest, they had someone to take the last place. I became motivated, motivated to have that first place. Eventually, I was glad I did not take the last place but proceeded to be at Junior School’s finals against two other streams. I wasn’t placed first, in fact, I have never been placed first, but I believe I got first class respect in the arena ever since then. Today, in my involvement in Toastmasters International, my communication skills have skyrocketed and just as well have my skills to transfer my knowledge to others. Over the past two years, I have been presenting inspirational speeches, and training corporate executives, staff, school students and various personnel. I have been engaged as Master of Ceremonies at various events such as Administrative Professionals’ Day Dinners, Southern Africa Toastmasters Conference Hall of Fame Banquet, Book Launch’s and Cocktails etc. I have been engaged to train and give workshops at various companies such as PSG Group, Nando’s, DuPont Pioneer; and the feedback I receive makes me want to impact more people with these skills that can be liberating to have because communication skills are not optional! Hence, today, I can safely answer that question, “What do you know?” with an answer such as, “When it comes to your communication skills, I can make a lasting impression, to you, your team and your organization. When you need inspiration, I am ready to speak to your heart with impact.” Make that call, today. Contact me@andrewtsuro.com.