Interview after becoming DTM (Distinguished Toastmaster)

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1) Looking back now, what were the most amazing moments that you had at Toastmasters?
I have had amazing moments at Toastmasters right from the first month. I’d like to share two of them with you:
a) When I joined the club as a member, I was requested to serve as the Vice President of Public Relations right away. So my first week of Toastmasters was all about creating online profiles for our club. I used all of my social media marketing skills on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, etc. I even created a website using FreeToasthost and started inviting our members to join the club network on each of these platforms. All the club members really appreciated my efforts and it gave me a chance to connect with each of them on a personal level. As we worked together as a team, we were able to accomplish a lot. It was an amazing time as I got to share my first few months at Toastmasters with the most enthusiastic members of the club, the executive committee.
b) The second amazing thing I’d like share would be the phone call I received one night from the Division Director in India. Before that call, I was only aware of the roles and responsibilities of a club officer. But then, I was told that I have been nominated by the District Director for Area Director’s post. I was not sure what has happened, as it took me some time to connect the dots. It turned out that the District Director had visited our club during one of the Area Level Contests, and I was the contest chair on that day. The stage control that I exhibited on that day and the short meeting I had with the District Director, made her nominate me for the next cycle. I took the opportunity and it changed my perspective towards Toastmasters. I met a lot of passionate people who were using their skills even outside of Toastmasters to make the world a better place.

2) How did you plan your goals at Toastmasters, was it always your plan to become a DTM?
DTM was not one of my goals until I achieved Advanced Leader Bronze. When I was working on the ALB submission form, I saw the blank columns against the projects related to DTM and I decided to fill them up soon. It’s always good to have a proper plan in Toastmasters. In fact, planning is one of the important skills we learn here. So I always try to complete one or the other project when I attend any of the Toastmasters meetings. Getting all the check marks on your manuals is a great feeling and we should never shy away from following them.

3) What does a DTM mean to you?
A synonym for distinguished is “well known” and that’s what it means to me. After going through all the projects and meetings and serving as a District Officer, you are bound to be well known and this title helps people identify you. It means that I have good experience of Toastmasters and can help fellow members by sharing my experience. It also means that I have got a chance to meet some of the most amazing Toastmasters while completing all the projects that are designed for this journey.

4) As the first DTM in XHTMC and 2nd DTM in Division H, what suggestion would you give to those who want to become a DTM?
I would suggest performing a good research whenever you set a goal. I have always double checked the rules and guidelines either at the website or by emailing membership@toastmasters.org directly. Since Toastmasters is such a big organization, it’s easy to get confused or misunderstand the rules which might have been translated or reinterpreted. I joined Toastmasters at a corporate club and we used to communicate via emails. It taught me the importance of being professional, especially when it comes to things like rules. So I would urge the fellow members to always stay updated and only rely on the single source of truth: http://toastmasters.org

5) With great power, comes great responsibilities. What is your plan for the coming future?
There are a lot of projects in the journey of a DTM which requires us to help fellow members. In fact, one of the requirements that I recently fulfilled for submission of my ACG award was to Coach a new member with his or her first three speeches. So helping fellow members have always been a priority and it would stay as it is, while I plan my future projects.

6) Would you like to be a club officer again?
I have served as a club officer 4 times and I understand the kind of responsibilities that come along with it. Since I have been moving from one city to another, serving as an officer has not been possible recently. But I would definitely serve as an officer when I have a concrete 6 months plan. I want to make sure that I am able to meet all the expectations, not just from the members but the ones I have from myself as an officer.

7) Would you be joining the Pathways program?
I already have! I am pursuing a path called “effective coaching” and I can see the difference Pathways is making in our lives. The online content makes it easy to get the required information and training while providing us with a tailor designed path to follow.

8) What does your family think about your Toastmasters journey?
My parents have always been supportive and I remember explaining the importance of Toastmasters to them. My wife has been very understanding and is always the first audience for all of my speeches. She even helps me by taking notes and suggesting changes.

9) You secured the second place at District 88 International Speech Contest held in Harbin this year. What would like to share about that?
Participating in contests can be scary since you will be judged by a panel of judges. Also, because of the expectations from fellow club members. In fact, my final speech was about conquering this fear itself. I would suggest to all Toastmasters, that they make sure they participate in the contests, irrespective of their level of preparation. You can watch the interview taken after the contest as well as the Division level speech at http://blog.kushalashok.com/2018/05/18/runner-up-district-88-toastmasters-international-speech-contest/

10) What would you like to say to Hi-Tech Club officers and members?
I would like to thank all the members and club officers of Xi’an Hi-tech toastmasters club for helping me get 4 awards in the last 8 months. These have been the most progressive 8 months of my Toastmasters journey. It would not have been possible without the support that I got and the friendly environment maintained during and after the club meetings.

From parental controls to memoji

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From parental controls to memoji

 
 
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In this episode we cover Parental Controls, Car Play, Grouped Notifications, Siri Shortcuts, Memoji and the importance of design. This is part 2 of the podcast recorded during Apple’s WWDC18.

Developer experiences at Apple’s WWDC

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Developer experiences at Apple’s WWDC

 
 
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This episode covers part 1 of the podcast recorded during Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference. We introduce iOS developers from Nepal, India and China as they share their impressions and experiences related to WWDC18.

Developers Podcasting at Apple’s WWDC 2018

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We just recorded a podcast at WWDC by making an appointment at the Apple App Store labs. I invited two other developers who were also attending the conference for the first time. We talked about the following topics:

  1. Experience at WWDC
  2. Parental Control
  3. Car Play
  4. Grouped notifications
  5. Siri Shortcuts
  6. Design at Apple
  7. Memojis
  8. Dark Mode

Following is a photograph from the podcast recording room. We will try to finish the editing and publish it soon.

Podcast room


From left to right: Michael from China, Kushal from India, Digendra from Nepal

Runner Up – District 88 – Toastmasters International Speech Contest

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I am writing this post to share my journey of 2018 Toastmasters International Speech Contest which started in Xi’an on 11th March and ended for me in Harbin on 13th May, when I got the 2nd place at District Level Contest.

The club contest was announced in advance but I simply didn’t have time to write a speech. I kept procrastinating and, the day of the contest arrived. I woke up at 5am and started writing the speech. After finalizing the main points I rehearsed for a few times and went to attend the contest.

I was lucky enough to get second place at club level contest, since I was not very confident about my delivery. I wanted to make sure that I write my speech in advance when it came to the Area Level Contest. So I wrote it one day in advance. One day before the contest, I got a few suggestions from my buddies Kent and Carol and finalized the content. I delivered the speech called “It’s like a dance”. The speech was about communication, and I included a few examples from my life in China which made the audience laugh. I got a lot of appreciation from the audience and secured the first place.

My Club President Madison and I were securing the 1st as well as 2nd position for each of the contests till now. She helped me book the train tickets for Taiyuan where the Division Contest was to be held. This time I finalized my speech even sooner, 2 days before the contest.

The contest chair had created a WeChat group for all the participants and wanted us to share the speech title 4 days in Advance. I had to tell her that I do not know the title of my speech yet. I used this situation as an example during my speech later. You can watch the video shot during the Division H Contest Below (China Only):

As you could observe, the audience response at Division Level Contest was fantastic and it helped my speech delivery a lot. Once again I had secured the 1st place.

After a few weeks when I delivered the same speech at my club, I was unprepared and exhausted. I delivered the speech while forgetting some parts here and there. Though the audience still liked it, I was simply not satisfied with my delivery. I made it my goal to not forget the speech at District Level Contest. So I practiced my speech around 35 times. To confirm that I am ready, I started using a trick called “Speed-Up”. I shot the following video after the contest for demonstrating this trick:

It was a fierce competition at the district level. The best speakers from 8 divisions were competing for their ticket to the Semi-finals. Beautiful stories were shared, from throwing the skates to playing the violin, all performances were action-packed.

All in all, I had a great time in the past few months and learned a lot during the process. I hope I can participate in the future contests as well.

Traveling Experiences

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Xianyang
“Exploring lands and technologies.”

Born and brought up in New Delhi, I am now living in Xi’an, the ancient capital of China. I love traveling, meeting new people and organizing different kinds of events. Following are few of my travel experiences from:

INDIA

I have covered almost all of the North India and a few places in the South as well. I have been traveling since I was in high-school. So you can imagine what happened when I started getting salary; almost every other weekend, I found a new place to visit by myself. I have been to many beautiful towns in Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Haryana and Punjab.
I have completed treks to Kedarnath temple and Hemkund Sahib back-to-back in just 4 days. Around 60km of difficult hiking.

BHUTAN

The fairytale kingdom where gross national happiness is considered more important than the GDP. The serene valleys of Paro can take your breath away. Bhutan is a country where people are so kindhearted and helpful that they will win your heart within few minutes. For instance, our taxi driver was so righteous that he gave us a huge discount at the end of our trip because some of the attractions on our agenda got closed. Another surprising fact about Bhutan is that there are no traffic lights in the whole country. In fact, people are so relaxed and carefree that they would happily wait for each other. Go figure!

THAILAND

I have spent one week in Thailand where I made some friends via Toastmasters community who helped me visit places like famous shopping malls in Bangkok. One of them recommended a travel agent who then booked a perfect tour for me which included lots of water sports in Pattaya.

MALAYSIA

I had my first HostelWorld experience in Kuala Lumpur where I met many fellow travelers. The dorms were a perfect place to meet new people who were interesting enough to make travel plans with. This allowed us to talk about our home countries and travel experiences as we explored KL together.

HONG KONG AND MACAU

I met a group of friends who already had their week planned. I traveled with them to a few spots and clicked lots of photographs. From the famous peak tram to the secluded Ding Ding rides, we enjoyed almost all different tastes of Hong Kong.

MAINLAND CHINA

I have explored Shanghai, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Wuxi, Wuzhen, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Dongji Islands, Taiyuan, and now I’m in Xi’an. Each of these places were unique in their own way. The sunset and sunrise looked beautiful from Dongji islands. I am still exploring and would love to visit more places in future.

Kushal in 2010

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about meThis following blog post was written by me in 2010 when I was a college student:

Social networking is one of my favorite online activities which includes real-time tweeting. Reading novels and posting reviews on Goodreads is among the other ones. I tried Dancing as well, which is one of my ways of balancing out my adrenaline rush and enjoying the music. And guess what is my profession: Computer Engineer. But I don’t spend all my time in the air-conditioned office, I rather like to go out and do something that makes a difference and I call it an investment in our future. One of these activities is teaching the underprivileged children in the nearby slum area. I seldom miss a chance to volunteer and have worked with various NGOs and societies. I believe in the idea of excellent education for all children which is the vision of Teach for India.

Motorcycling
I love to take risks and that’s why I like stunting. I believe in the quote, “if four wheels move the body, two wheels move the soul”. Now you can reckon how much I love my motorbike. I’m d kind of guy who’ll be sneaking out of my bedroom at three o’clock in the morning to look at my bike.

(If you don’t ride in the rain, you don’t ride.)

One can key me out as a speedoholic. When I sit on my bike and kick-start it, I get a strange feeling as if I were omnipotent.

(Everyone crashes. Some get back on. Some don’t. Some can’t.)

Here is a video featuring one of my driving experiences:

Photography

 

In photography, my interest prevails as I keep up my photostream on flickr. Though with the advent of Instagram  I started clicking more pictures by using a smartphone.

I am going to put all about me and my thoughts on this blog, and I hope that you revel reading it.

More : http://about.me/kushalashok

Technical Presentation at Toastmasters ACB9 – Mobike | How stuff works?

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Tonight I delivered a prepared speech at Toastmasters club after several months. It was my 19th (ACB9) Speech as per Toastmasters International education system; project 4 of Technical presentations manual, which provided me 12 minutes of stage time. You can refer to the slides which I used during the presentation, by using this link: Mobike PPT

Also find below the link to white paper which inspired me to choose this topic:

Mobike White Paper 2017

In terms of experience, I got an engaging audience and all of them had used Mobike before. Thus, it was quite easy for me to get their attention. I was worried that I may have included too many technical terms for everyone to understand, but I believe it went well since I got voted as the best prepared speaker. I think the inclusion of a poster from movie “3 idiots” successfully brought back nice memories for everyone.

I also got a nice feedback from my evaluator and she rightly mentioned that I could not summarize the speech to reiterate the key take away since I ran out of time. The agenda of this speech was not to publicize or praise Mobike, but to inspire people to learn and investigate more about the machines they use in their daily lives. To have that curiosity and zeal, to find the answers, and more importantly; to ask questions.

I also got some feedback from the Grammarian on my pronunciation, which reminded me that I still need to work on it. It gave me another reason to continue delivering more speeches at Toastmasters clubs.

P.S.: I used the word of the day (in retrospect) twice, once in my prepared speech and once during table topics.