Tag Archives: Troy

Troy Toastmasters Club

I’ve seen statistics that show people fear speaking in public more than they do death.  I used to be one of these people.  I learned this lesson first hand several years ago, when I was the best man and had to give a few words and toast at a wedding in front of a few hundred people.  This was the first time I was ever in front of that large of an audience, with the attention solely on me (even if it were for only a few moments.)

While preparing I felt pretty confident, I knew the material, most of the audience and wasn’t really too nervous about it, that is until 30 seconds before I was handed the microphone.  My heart sunk, my hands trembled and I eecked out a horrible display of public speaking, full of filler words and disorganized thoughts.  In hindsight, there was a clear lack of appreciation for true “preparation.”  That was a valuable lesson for me, as I sat down and tried to calm my nerves, trembling, trying to drink some water, I vowed to never embarrass myself like that again.

From there, I went on to read several books about public speaking, I even took a class at a community college in the evenings to learn about the discipline of public speaking, preparation, research, outlines, etc. Needless to say, I’ve improved.  My confidence in speaking publicly has also improved.  That’s not to say I’m a polished speaker, by any stretch of the imagination, but I’ve overcome the first of many barriers – I no longer fear it more than death.

Speaking, communication, negotiation, whatever you want to call it is a fundamental skill in today’s society.  Being an effective communicator is crucial to your own success, credibility and influence you have with your peers, friends and even family.  In my role, (and active community involvement) I get asked from time to time to do talks on various subjects, inside and out of my organization – each of which I draw from my experience; sure I still get nervous, but after each I gain in experience and confidence making each future talk more manageable and in some cases I even look forward to them.  One day, I may even hope to give a talk at a TED conference!  Shoot for the stars – right!?

I, like you, have probably heard of Toastmasters, but until recently didn’t know all that much about them.  A good friend of mine, Danielle (@ddelonge) of Davenport University – helped to motivate me to check out a local Toastmasters here in Troy, MI.  The Troy Toastmasters, Club #2357 (Area 23, Division E, District 28) – meets weekly at 11:45 each Thursday at Dupont Automotive (950 Stephenson Hwy, Troy, MI, 48083.)  This group (to me) was the exact venue to help keep me engaged, further developing my speaking skills, as large gaps (and busy schedules) can prevent me from practicing and the TM group (along with Danielle) provides a positive support system – much like a workout friend.

Not having had exposure to other Toastmaster clubs, I can only assume they all as well run as the Troy group is.  If you’re looking for an outlet to increase your confidence speaking publicly, increasing your verbal (and non-verbal) communication skills, confidence and all the benefits that come along with it, I HIGHLY recommend you check them out.  The group has well balanced experience, with very polished, experienced speakers, as well as total beginners, starting at step 1.  The group is highly organized, with distinct roles & responsibilities to ensure each and every meeting is good use of your time, getting everyone involved, and most importantly introducing you to the benefits of becoming a good speaker – both through positive reinforcement as well as constructive criticism.

The Troy group also has access to excellent facilities, from a large auditorium stage with stadium-style seating (for large, formal speaking engagements) to conference rooms (where most presentations occur.)  Formats include several timed, structured speeches, to one-minute intros and table topics, as well as debates – getting you full exposure to all different types of communication formats and environments – which will surely help you increase your confidence while preparing for you next big presentation – hopefully I’ll see you there!

“The mission of a Toastmasters Club is to provide a mutually supportive and positive learning environment in which every member has the opportunity to develop communication and leadership skills, which in turn foster self-confidence and personal growth.  We have fun in the process.”


Office Relocation Part 1: Planning the move

Below is the first part in a multi-post series surrounding a typical Office Relocation.  To read the introduction to this series or to view links of other sections, please click here.

For many companies the cost of leasing office space is typically one of the companies highest expense items – second to only the cost of salaries and wages – its important to be sure that both the move and the timing of the move are right for your company.  Briefly, the relocation process contains:

  • Establishing a relocation team to coordinate the move. This may also include an advisory team consisting of real estate and relocation professionals, a commercial real estate agent and real estate attorney.
  • Determining your needs.  How much space do you require?  What type of building fits your business?  What is your preferred geographic location?  Do you need to be located near restaurants, hotels and/or public transportation?  Lastly, you’ll need to prepare a budget.
  • Identify potential properties. Obtain a list of available properties from your commercial real estate agent.  Narrow the list by excluding properties that are unsuitable.  Schedule a tour of the remaining facilities.  Determine which locations could be appropriate for your business.
  • Prepare a preliminary space plan. With the help of a space planner or architect, determine the most efficient use of space at your two or three top building choices.  For construction cost estimates, establish a general type and amount of changes required.
  • Develop a Request for Proposal (RFP).  Your commercial real estate agent will prepare and distribute an RFP to the landlords of your top building choices.  Based upon response, determine which space would be the best alternative for your business.  Once determined, your real estate agent will submit a letter of intent to the landlord outlining the terms you intend the lease to be based upon.
  • Finalize space plan. Get input from departmental representatives and have a formal blueprint created to represent your new space should remodeling/construction be necessary.
  • Negotiate the terms of your lease. Once a lease is obtained and reviewed by decision-maker(s) from your company, get input from your real estate agent and attorney.  Renegotiate and/or accept lease terms.

Now, having conceptualized the process, you’ll need to dive a bit deeper into the details required for planning your move.

  1. Identify dedicated resources. This should include a relocation coordinator and departmental representation.  Each participant should understand occasional evening and weekend work may be necessary.  The team should also plan to attend weekly progress meetings, once details begin to materialize.
  2. Develop an advisory team:
      ->Commercial Real Estate Agent/Broker:
      Choose someone experienced in lease negotations and specialized in similar types of space (e.g. office, industrial, retail, etc.). Understand how he/she finds available space. Ask how this person will get paid for providing services. Also ask for 2 or 3 references of similar clients.
      ->Real Estate Attorney:
      He/she should help in determining rights of both parties and understanding the significance of all lease terms. Should also recognize and leverage the goals of the business with those of the landlord.
      ->Architect/Space Planner:
      Relocation is an excellent opportunity to design a more efficient working environment. This person can help in determining the correct amount of space required, taking into consideration current/future employees and growth expectations.
      ->Furniture Consultant:
      If buying new furniture, bring a furniture vendor into the process to help with the type of configuration of workstations and individual office furniture. Design services are typically offered at no charge to you, depending on the type of and quantity of furniture ordered.
      ->IT Consultant:
      This is crucial in helping to design and setup telephone/data services, esp. if you are planning to move significant existing equipment. Key considerations include building ample capacity for phone/data networks with appropriate access points throughout the new office. This resource may also be helpful in coordinating external vendors, such as utility providers, ISPs, phone companies, etc. and renegotiate contracts.
  3. Determine the budget. Consider the costs of professional advisory fees, hiring a moving company, relocating your equipment and computer network, replacing office furniture and printing costs for new business cards, stationary and other printed material, including relocation announcements for customers.
  4. Establish a Time Line. A typical move can take anywhere from six to 12 months of planning.  In general, your facility selection and lease review process will take the longest amount of time.  It’s important to continue working through other facets of the move, choosing a moving company, researching furniture options and office equipment during the facility selection process.
  5. Key Considerations
      Evaluate the feasibility of renewing your current lease before making decisions to relocate. If you choose to move, interview several commercial real estate agents. Be sure to check references as well as companies/properties they represent. Establish a moving date well in advance, ideally in less busy period of the business to ensure ample time for the relocation process.
  6. Action Steps
      10-12 months prior to the move you should: Appoint a relocation coordinator, interview and select a commercial real estate agent, engage services of a real estate attorney, select the rest of your advisory team including an architect or space planner as well as furniture and IT consultants. Next develop your relocation budget, including estimates for professional services, moving expenses and the cost of new furnishings and equipment. Lastly, schedule the prospective moving day, knowing that this may be a moving target until the office space selection and other factors are determined.

Next, we’ll dive into part 2, creating your ideal office environment.