About the Founder
• I’m a language nerd. I’ve lived in four countries and did my best to learn the language in each of those countries with so-so success.
• In 2005 I moved to Taiwan at a time when everyone was excited about the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Mandarin was THE hot language to learn, but also known as the hardest. I realized that repeating teachers for hours was the same road everyone else was taking with little success in eventual fluency.
• As an experienced ESL teacher, I knew that I needed to actively apply all four language skills to conquer the steep Mandarin learning mountain.
• To accomplish this goal, I joined a Toastmasters English club in Taiwan, but I convinced the club to allow me to speak Mandarin instead of English.
• After my first speech, I got a standing ovation. By my third speech, my mentor suggested that I start delivering speeches in English instead!
• So I continued my Mandarin studies on the side while I got more serious about my public speaking. I went on to compete in many English speech competitions and earned many awards as a participant and coach. But I never gave up on my dream to deliver speeches in Chinese.
• Seven years later, I joined an all-Mandarin Toastmasters club. This time I joined a club without any foreigners, zero English, and members who would never understand what I said if I said it wrong.
• Audiences looked at me cross-eyed when I messed up my tones, and sometimes even when I didn’t. Many days after speeches, I returned home and had good girly cries.
• Three years later I was the first foreigner to ever beat all native Mandarin speakers in a Toastmasters Mandarin speech contest.
Was it easy? Hell, no! Was it worth it? Hell, yes!
In my winning speech, “Am I Strange?” I humorously shared my experiences as an African-American in Taiwan. My video reached one million views on YouTube in two weeks. I’m convinced that the only reason my speech captivated the hearts of the Taiwanese people was because I spoke in their language – Mandarin.
Who would benefit from becoming a Speaking Seed?
• International traders
• Hotel and restaurant managers
Crappy vs. awesome Speaking Seed qualities
• can care less about anyone else in the world
• no interest in foreign languages
• connect with others
• enjoy learning the language
• conquer the challenges of public speaking
Where can you begin?
I started my Speaking Seed experience in Toastmasters, but it’s not the only place you can find an audience. Audiences are available everywhere. Here are some examples:
• restaurant nights out with friends
• in front of classmates at school
• with colleagues at work
• religious or social gatherings
• any events where large communities of those speakers live