Panic, Again

Last week I wrote about how I panicked during a book report, took the Dale Carnegie course at age seventeen, and gained the confidence to go to college.

After completing that course, it was ten years later before I needed to stand and speak to a work-related audience. And it was not going to be pretty.

My boss, Mr. Pike, asked me to introduce the speaker at a seminar our precast concrete company was organizing. He didn’t ask me to present a talk. He asked me to introduce the speaker.

After sleeping on it, or not sleeping, I told him that I couldn’t do that. I said I would have to quit my job before standing in front of fifty people and talking for two minutes.

So, I did

He said okay! Okay, he would introduce the speaker this time, but I needed to work on my problem. So, I did.

I remembered that upon graduating from the Dale Carnegie course ten years earlier, we were told that we could take the class again anytime for no fee if we attended every class and did the work. So, I did. And Mr. Pike attended my second Dale Carnegie graduation.

I had learned my lesson. The Dale course gave me skills and confidence, but, without using those skills, my confidence would fade away. Completely away.

I need regular booster shots of stage time to keep my confidence level up.

I then remembered the other recommendation from my high school counselor.


He had recommended joining Toastmasters when I was over eighteen. So, I did.  I have been a member of six clubs over the years. Presently, I attend the Sunrise Club in Lexington, Kentucky.

At Toastmasters, I get weekly booster shots of stage time, and skills training.

Whether giving the Timer’s Report or functioning as the Toastmaster or giving a speech, I get a little bit of time to stay accustomed to being the center of attention, while making what I’m doing and saying be about the audience, not about me.

Homelite Textron

Shortly after taking the Dale course and joining Toastmasters, I changed jobs and began working for Homelite Textron, selling power equipment. Two and a half years later, I was promoted to District Manager in the construction equipment division and had ten people working for me. I was hosting quarterly three-day meetings with my team, and facilitating training programs for them.

Then we began to hold annual power equipment dealer meetings. These events were a big and expensive deal. We had about a hundred and fifty people attend a two-day event, with us providing presentations, meals, and accommodations. I was the MC, one of the presenters, and the event organizer. Our expenditures per seminar were about $20,000 in the early eighties.

I can’t say enough positive things about Dale Carnegie and Toastmasters. I was using every skill I had learned.

They worked together in my life to give me the confidence and expertise I would need for the remainder of my career, including today.

What came next was unexpected.  I’ll cover that next week.


My Take-a-Ways
  1. If you are fearful about something, find out how to overcome the fear.
  2. Do the work.
  3. Take on new challenges.