Planning My Future Immediate Past
Matthew J. Goldberg (or Matt, if preferred), Immediate Past President.
Has a ring to it, doesn’t it?
In nine days, I will officially be the immediate Past President of my Toastmasters chapter, and will take on this new unofficial title.
I’m not sure what this position rings of, or reeks of, but it seems to connote experience, accomplishment and wisdom. I kind of like it.
Of course, I had to travel through “presidency” to get here, and looking back on it, I don’t think I had ever been a president before. Shoot, for a lot of years, I was barely present, let alone president. And I know that presidential means a whole lot of things to a whole lot of people, so let’s just say I wasn’t a whole lot of those things, either.
The beauty of the presidency was that I attained it without a competitive election; I didn’t have to run for Immediate Past President either.
This transition of regime and routine—and a recent conversation with a new old friend via Facebook—reminds me of the only time I ever ran for president of anything.
So, let’s travel back in time to my senior year of high school, a time where I would probably best be described as long-haired, wiry, nice guy, funny, likeable and at least superficially popular. Scratch those first two adjectives and things have not changed much for me, only the circumstances.
I recall sitting in a history class where some other students were passing around petitions to run for various offices. I wrote Matt Goldberg for Class Clown on mine.
I received a fair amount of signatures and someone (I think it was a girl named Diane; she was very good-looking, so maybe I’m hoping it was her) crossed out Class Clown, wrote in President, and also scribbled “You should run.”
Shortly after Diane’s message, I met with my coterie of advisors…okay, I decided to give it a shot.
As memory serves, there were at least 10 people who ran for president, ten people who had to prepare a speech of some kind at the dreaded school assembly. We also had the opportunity to put up posters in senior hall and other spots.
I never got around to putting up posters, but do remember these ubiquitous posters from a rather quiet, aloof, if brainy girl who made long, quasi-catchy acronyms out of her rather long name.
Hmm…that would be too high-profile, and too much trouble to match, but I did come up with a quick brainstorm to spoof her campaign.
I recall going up to the podium to give my first-ever speech in front of hundreds. (Our senior class numbered about 625.) A few of my buddies in the first row raised pieces of paper with my satiric slogan and yelled, “MJG: More Jews in Government.” I don’t recall many other details.
The results soon came in, and I finished as runner-up, which made me the VP. It was probably a good thing for the class, and for me, that I did not win. The President (Alan G, as I recall) gave a good speech, took the position seriously and did well. I did next-to-nothing.
My next-to-nothing involved being asked to present the class gift at graduation, which would be a wooden Indian, a monument to our less than politically correct mascot, school culture and era. Fighting off the first hangover of my young life, and without a prepared speech, I held a symbolic stick in my hand, stood kind of tall, and delivered something or other to a warm reception. Well, the temperature was red-hot and we wearing black robes.
In my role as Toastmasters president, I have been a whole lot more active, and have generally been very well-prepared for every officers meeting and most of the situations that arose during the year. There were some surprises (not the type that bring joy to the heart) that I could not have anticipated, but I’ve enjoyed the year.
I’ve never been a big organization guy, and I don’t drink and offer Kool-Aid or anything approaching dogma willingly, but the position did end up being a good fit for me. It was frustrating at times to hold meetings where only half of the officers showed, or arrived late, and it was a challenge to send out countless emails with tepid or no responses. But the presidency did have its rewards, even if they are hard to define at the moment.
Perhaps, the biggest reward is being able to graduate to Immediate Past President without having to run with a stick in my hand—or one up my butt.