Mentoring Matters: An Interview with DTM Mark Grebenau

One of my mentors, DTM Mark Grebenau shared his story of continuous self-improvement, hope it serves as an inspiration for us all. Mentoring plays a significant role in Toastmasters as they help create the social glue that ensures we stick together. We set our educational and leadership goals and our mentors keep us accountable.

DTM Mark Grebenau is a Toastmaster with over 30 years’ experience. In the past, he has held several leadership positions including that of Area Governor and Division Governor. He has completed his 14th CC and will complete his 17th CC within this Toastmasters fiscal year (2017-2018). DTM Mark is a formidable orator whose creativity seems ceaseless. His speeches are meticulous, carefully sprinkled with humor and impactful. His evaluations are geared to help us grow in our speech craft.

TM Alton James, ACB, ALB award DTM Mark Grebenau his 14th CC pin.

Mark prepared me for my speech contests. The results were, my winning at the Club Level and at the Area (2015-2016). He has also helped me temper my goal driven nature with a deep sense of humility, as we are all volunteers try to become better. In our 2016-2017 term, for my HPL, he was willing to take on 6 new mentees from the Toastmasters at NJIT club. Even during a time of personal pain over losing his mom. Mark loves to give back. He loves to teach. This is what drives him and in turn motivates us.

DTM Mark remains committed, passionate and in pursuit of continuous self-improvement. I asked him how he was able to do this.

TL: What inspired you to join Toastmasters?
Mark: I was approached by a co-worker who heard me give a scientific presentation, and I attended a meeting and joined soon after.

TL: You are now working on your 17th CC…what keeps you going?
Mark: I enjoy public speaking, and I know I can always improve.

TL: Do you find yourself learning more each time you present a new CC? Please explain how.
Mark: Techniques change with time; when I started, I mastered the art of speaking using an overhead projector. I now use PowerPoint, and as the software becomes more sophisticated, so do my presentations.

TL: What would you say was your most memorable Toastmaster speech making moment?
Mark: Coming in second to Mark Brown in a District 46 International Speech contest. Mark would later win the world title, making me “Second to One” – the title of a subsequent speech that I gave.

TL: Do you have a particular style to approaching your speech development and delivery? How has Toastmasters helped you with constantly improving your style?
Mark: I always have in the back of my mind: “How can a make a speech out of this experience?”

TL: Would you say Toastmasters has helped you with your career?
Mark: Since my current “career” consists of voluntarily speaking to senior groups, I would certainly say so.

TL: If you had one piece of advice for a new Toastmaster what would it be?
Mark: Everyone in this room empathizes with you – get up and speak.

TL: Is there anything else you would like to share that I may have missed?
Mark: I am a teacher. That is my gift. I use my gift to develop my skill.

With the help of Distinguished Toastmasters like Mark, when times get tough as they often will, we remain committed to our “Toastmasters’ Promise.” Thank you to all my Toastmasters Mentors, DTM Mark Grebenau, DTM Avril Lecky, Tom Jenkins, ACG, ALB, DTM Terry Pyle and of course my husband Sean Lloyd, CC, CL. To date, I’ve paid it forward and have mentored over 25 mentees from Canada to Trinidad and now here in New Jersey. As an old African proverb goes, “we are because you are.”

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