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Toastmasters Champion Table Topics - Jim Carty 2010

In 2010, Jim Carty won the Toastmasters District 61 Table Topics contest.

The question, "Which has greater value, what others see in you, or what you see in yourself?"

He responded with 267 words of eloquence...

He responded with 267 words of eloquence over 1:59, or 133 words per minute.  He was poised, conveyed calm and confidence. He is obviously intelligent, with a straight forward humility that brings us together.

Notice the repetitions of these phrases, adding to the clarity of his message:

"think you are"

"we don't react"

"each and every"

"they think about"


Mister Contest Chair, fellow Toastmasters, welcome guests, you're not who you think you are. In fact, you're not even who other people think you are. You are, in fact, who you think other people think you are.

We don't react to the reality of a situation. We don't react to what we actually have within us. Each and every person in the room has more within themselves than they show each and every day. Each and every person in the room has the ability to do so much more than we do, but we hold back. We hold back because of what we think other people think of us. We don't know what other people think of us, in all honesty I don't think other people do think of us near as much as we like to think that they do.

I was often told that you are happy when you are getting attention. Your happiness is caused by your happening (it's what's going on around you). Those people giving you the attention, thinking about you in the way you would like, but they don't. They think about themselves. They think about themselves and what you think of them.

It's a phenominal question, "Which has great value?" but I believe that the question is a little bit skewed. I think the most important thing is changing our opinion of other people's opinions of our own opinion of us. I would encourage you: do what you can do, do what you do do, do your best each and every time, and other people's opinions won't matter. Contest Chair

In 2014, we asked Jim for him recollections of the contest and his personal reflections on those moments: hearing the question, walking up, answering, and walking off. Here is his response:

Over the years, I have had conversations with people about contests, Table Topics and Table Topics contests.  During that time, I have come to the conclusion that a Table Topics contest, while a great tool to improve many of the skills needed in effective communication, on some level, really isn't a "fair" contest.
In April 2010, I had the great fortune of placing first in Table Topics during the District Contest.  I am quite confident that I'm no better a speaker than any of the other division representatives that shared the stage with me that morning.  Nor for a moment do I wish to imply that anyone was cheated in anyway.

What I do believe is that with Table Topics, there will be times in which, in the language of baseball, "You receive a low hanging curve ball".  On occasion, you are presented with a topic that, due to your life experience; or your chance love of old books; or simply because of what you do for a living; the topic presented to you could not have been chosen better, and you "knock it out of the park."
When Horace, the Contest Chair, read the topic for me in 2010, the first thing that came to me was a conversation I had with a mentor of mine over apple pie and coffee many years ago.  I had been trying to explain to him why I wasn't able to do something and all the people who had told me why it was a terrible idea.  My mentor then asked why I was seeking advice from people who hadn't done what I wanted to do and weren't prepared to assist me.    

"People don't think about you... they think about themselves."

Having received my share of topics that cause me to draw a complete blank, I knew that this was a topic that "suited me."

I look forward to the next competition.  Not because I expect to win, but simply because the more times I draw a blank, the deeper my own well of life experiences will be.

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