The Special event on November 14th – Can everyone become a leader?

The Special event on November 14th – Can everyone become a leader?

Invite two leaders, mix it with 43 enthusiastic people of 15 different nationalities, add a pinch of public speaking and you will get a magical recipe. We had a fantastic Toastmasters evening where the participants learned a lot from each other. Especially our guest speakers gave valuable and complementary points on leadership and we as the audience had the opportunity to ask for more during the Q&A sessions.

First, Erik Joosten (Owner and CEO at Arion Group)  gave a speech about his viewpoint on leadership. You have always two choices: staying in your comfort zone or stepping up. If you decide for the second option, keep in mind that you have to prepare for a “continuous battle” because success will not come at ease. Erik finished by comparing different leaders from the past and the present and pointed at one common thing: each one of them wanted or wants to make an impact. And if you do want to make an impact, start as soon as possible!

Second, Samir Smissaert (Director Shared Services Operations Prague|Heerlen at Medtronic) visited our HQ to talk about his values and how they have shaped him as being a leader. Build resilience: absorb all difficult situations in your life and turn them into learning points because they will make you stronger. Be responsible: do not be a victim because only you can pro-actively change the direction of your path. Be respectful: pay attention to the little things when dealing with people; trust and serve your team to empower them.

After the break we continued with the traditional Toastmasters “Table Topics” speeches where anyone was eligible to come upfront and participate. We had eight very distinct topics and the speakers were challenged to talk for at least 1 minute (up to 2 minutes). Afterwards the audience voted for the best improvised speech.


1st place: Christine de Kogel (employee at Arion Group) – Christine elaborated on “why smartphones improve our social lives as opposed to what many people think and say nowadays”.

2nd place: Valerie Karahan (guest) – Valerie explained to us on “which TV show she would participate and why”

3rd place: Philippe Cox (TM Hasselt) – Philippe spoke about his “preferred neighbor on a 20-hour flight and why”

At the end everyone went home happy and inspired, thinking about their desires and capacities to be leaders.  As always, the feedback and fresh ideas offered will help to improve members’ performance and club quality going into the future.

We thank our sponsors for making the whole event possible: Arion Group, Saccani Translations, and The English Teachers Aachen.

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