Toastcaster Communication Leadership Learning Lab
ToastCaster 163: Reinvention & Tips for When Business is Slow – Stephanie Northcott

ToastCaster 163: Reinvention & Tips for When Business is Slow – Stephanie Northcott

July 31, 2022


[23:52] Ever wonder how to fill the gaps when business is slow? There are a number of productive things we can do - some we already know but are often forgotten. But what about when things are so slow and choices are so limited that you have to totally reinvent yourself?

Our guest today is an expert in both those areas. Stephanie Northcott, a former corporate project administrator from Calgary, Canada in the construction and electrical utility industries found herself in a position of having no position that fit her skills due to a corporate. 

With a decade of extensive experience under her belt, Stephanie decided to take matters into her own hands. She put her administrative skills and strengths to work becoming an entrepreneur specializing in helping sole proprietors and online entrepreneurs as a virtual assistant, relocating her family and now working from the paradise of Guanajuato, Mexico.

In this episode, Stephanie shares a little about her journey, what a virtual assistant does and shares a number of tips that she has discovered and things you can do when business slows to a crawl.

Many of her tips and nuggets of wisdom come from the article: Filling the Gaps when Things Get Slow that can be found on her blog as well as on LinkedIn.

Some of the tips include: Examining your business from the outside in, posting past content and cleaning up those nagging “tolerations” and more.

You can find Stephanie Northcott on LinkedIn or reach her via her website:

Toastcaster 161: Recognizing and Harnessing Life Changing Moments

Toastcaster 161: Recognizing and Harnessing Life Changing Moments

June 11, 2022


[31:19] Has the pandemic created for you or someone you know an unnerving unexpected and totally unprepared for, life changing moment? In reality, life-changing moments happen all the time. Many however, are not crises but unrealized opportunities. In fact, some of the best ones are often disguised, pass us by and are only noticed in hindsight. 

In his opening keynote session, you’ll hear from Past District 42 Governor (Director) Greg Gazin, DTM.  You’ll hear ways you can recognize life-changing moments and learn tips to harness them to help you catch your second wind and keep you sailing in the right direction.  

In this light-hearted session, Greg will share some of his epiphanies, adventures and misadventures of transformation both outside and inside Toastmasters as he meandered some of those moments. You’ll also hear how Toastmasters played a role but also mistakes he made and the differences it would have made if Pathways - Toastmasters Educational Program would have come along earlier.

Recorded via Zoom as part of Toastmasters District 42 2022 Spring Conference.


(Note: In one moment inadvertently said "Toastmaster" when I should have said "ToastCaster." "In 2006, I created the ToastCaster Podcast." The Toastmasters Podcast was originally created by Ryan Levesque & Bo Bennett. I became host and producer of the Toastmasters Podcast in 2014.)




Toastmaster 158: Celebrating Milestones Forward Can Yield Amazing Results

Toastmaster 158: Celebrating Milestones Forward Can Yield Amazing Results

February 28, 2022


[18:33] Milestones are achieved and celebrated every day and recognized in a variety of different ways. Celebrations are also often backward looking going back to where one once was to where they are now. But what if you commemorated by celebrating forward? Using the milestone as a way of encouraging a future activity.

In this episode we look at the milestone of 200th episode of the Toastmasters Podcast and how instead of looking back at the first 200 episodes as many do, the hosts Greg Gazin and Ryan Levesque decided to create a contest - a Pitch Us Your Podcast Idea! contest

The idea would be to create more buzz around podcasting and encourage members to give it a try. Members could submit their most creative idea - a pitch and an audio sample and they did not have to have an existing podcast.  The winner would be announced and  be a guest on Episode #200 where they could introduce themselves to the world and pitch their idea to Greg and Ryan. 

When the dust settled, the winner was Rashmi Ketha from Ledgewood NJ, USA  with “The Experience Passport.” Personal development through hobby sampling.


You can catch the 200th episode - shown above at, and Apple & Google Podcasts. 

Also, if you want to find out a little more about the Toastmasters Podcast and its hosts, please check out: Tune In to The Toastmasters Podcast, in the March 2022 on-line issue of the Toastmaster Magazine.

Toastcaster 156: Looking Backward, Looking Forward: Reflections of a Caregiver - Rick Lauber

Toastcaster 156: Looking Backward, Looking Forward: Reflections of a Caregiver - Rick Lauber

December 31, 2021


[26:00] As we reflect back on this year, caregiving can mean many things to many people. Some people are caregivers in the traditional sense, others give care in many forms to others. In this episode we bring back author and former co-caregiver Rick Lauber. The idea of his return was prompted by a recent insightful tweet he made. 

As a #caregiver, please don't ever question the difference you make in someone's life. Thank you so much to all caregivers for everything they do.”

This episode is for  those who give care, receive care or know someone who is either.

In this episode Rick enlightens us with what prompted him to share that wisdom. He reflects upon his own personal experiences sharing some of his thoughts and feelings, even those of guilt, which are also likely felt by many others - particularly during the holiday season and this past year.

Listeners are also in for a learning experience as Rick also reflects back with respect to what he’s learned, how he’s coped, some of the actions and steps he’s taken and continues to take and some of what he’s still dealing with even after many years.

He also shares with us how you can go about resetting your life when you are no longer a caregiver,  and more.

Rick Lauber is from Edmonton, Alberta Canada. You can reach him at or on Twitter @CDNCaregiver. You can also find his two best-selling guide books  – Caregiver’s Guide for Canadians (2nd edition) and The Successful Caregiver’s Guide (U.S) on Amazon and the usual outlets.

You can also listen to past episodes with Rick Lauber. Toastcaster 69 How Toastmasters helps Authors and Toastcaster 127: Caregiving - The Ultimate Leadership Role.

Happy New Year 2022!

Toastcaster 155: Repetition Can Be A Good Thing - Greg Gazin

Toastcaster 155: Repetition Can Be A Good Thing - Greg Gazin

November 30, 2021


[06:05] Hearing things being repeated can often drive you absolutely crazy. In this brief episode you'll learn that if used effectively, repetition in presentations, conversations and even recordings can truly be an effective tool in getting your message across.

If you think about speeches like MLK Jr.'s, I Have a Dream, there's a perfect example.

This podcast is also available as an article. The original article can be found at

Toastcaster 153: Making Freaking Meetings Fun & Productive - Matt Abrahams

Toastcaster 153: Making Freaking Meetings Fun & Productive - Matt Abrahams

September 30, 2021


[29:55] Many people avoid meetings at all costs - they feel they’re unproductive, a waste of time and simply a bandaid for bad communication in an organization. In this episode Greg speaks with return guest Matt Abrahams, educator and coach whose extensive exploration, research and experience has led him to discover a collaborative approach to keep meetings fun and exciting. More importantly they be can productive in achieving the goals of the organization and add value to the teams. And you might even be thanked for running a meeting.

You’ll learn about the importance of planning, executing and setting expectations up front - and even determining whether there is an alternative to holding a meeting. 

You’ll hear how to invoke emotion by leveraging meeting invites and making agendas valuable and how the information, emotion and actions are the three important key elements of any communication.   This includes the importance of paraphrasing and how that leads to better communication and boost engagement during the meeting. 

He also stresses the value of focusing on the experience and the creative order of things and not just the content and also using physical engagement and leveraging the use of technology tools and more.

Matt also touches on how to ensure the new way of running meetings endures and tips for running virtual meetings.

And finally, Matt talks about his new podcast, Think Fast Talk Smart from Stanford GSB.

Matt Abrahams teaches Strategic Communication for Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business and Presentation Skills for Stanford’s Continuing Studies Program and co-founder of coaching consulting practice Bold Echo Communication Solutions. If that’s not enough, Matt is also the author of the book Speaking Up without Freaking Out, now in its 3rd edition. 

You can also hear Matt on episode #93 Speaking up without freaking out and also on the Toastmasters Podcast, Episode 111, with Greg Gazin and Ryan Levesque where he spoke on how to be confident.

Toastcaster 152: Unexpected Leaders that Leave a Lasting Impression - Guinness

Toastcaster 152: Unexpected Leaders that Leave a Lasting Impression - Guinness

August 31, 2021


[15:26] In this episode Greg speaks about two incredible individuals whom we can call unexpected leaders. These are people who positively impact others not really with any intention but simply by doing what they do. In fact they may not even be aware of the impact that they are having on others and the long lasting impression they leave.

You’ll hear about, Reverend Kevin Fast (left) from Cobourg, Ontario, Canada is best described as a modern day Popeye and Brittany Walsh, a.k.a  AcroBritt (RIGHT) from Portland, Oregon, U.S.A a dancer, a gymnast, former circus performer and  acrobatic archer who both happen to be individuals featured in the 2020 Guinness Book of World Records.

Greg shares a little about each of their stories and 3 leadership lessons he’s taken away by speaking with them

Related Materials

If you'd like to read the related article Leadership tips from the Book of Guinness World Records you can find it at

To hear the full interview podcast with these two inspiring Guinness world record holder's along with a bonus interview with an official judge or adjudicator and hear them tell their stories, check out:  Toastcaster 122: Setting a Guinness World Record – It Takes True Leadership. 

A short link for that is 

Also please visit


Toastcaster 150: Hardest Speech You‘ll Ever Have to Give - Greg Gazin

Toastcaster 150: Hardest Speech You‘ll Ever Have to Give - Greg Gazin

July 5, 2021


[32:53] Imagine the hardest speech you'll ever have to give.

In this episode you'll hear about that speech, the process that went into creating it and the speech itself and how on that day, I felt a rollercoaster of emotions the likes of which I’d never experienced in my life.

That day I was surrounded by loving friends and family as I said a final farewell to Elaine Baram, my best friend, my love, my wife, the sunshine of my life who I will miss forever ❤️.  It will also explain why there were no episodes over the past months. 


Toastcaster 148: How to Host a Live or Virtual TEDx Event  Part I – Noel Bentley

Toastcaster 148: How to Host a Live or Virtual TEDx Event Part I – Noel Bentley

May 1, 2021


[27:28] There’s a plethora of resources spotlighting do a TED Talk or speaking on the TEDx stage, but few realize that a great host or emcee can make or break that event. In this episode Greg speaks with Noel Bentley, a three-time TEDx host who’s hosted both live and virtual events at TEDx Bear Creek Park in Surrey BC, Canada.

In Part 1 of this 2 part series, Noel inspires us with his own story, what it means to be a TEDx host, what the role entails and the excitement and opportunities it presents for speakers and individuals. You’ll as be introduced to TEDx BearCreekPark and a glimpse as to what goes on behind the scenes of a TEDx. 

Noel enlightens us with his experience in his role as a TEDx host - how he got there, what he learned, how he (over) prepares mentally and physically and about the help he got along the way. You’ll also learn about other key players like the curator, speaker coach, program coordinator and of course the speakers and how the host interacts with them. You’ll also find out what speakers have to go through to be on that stage.  

Noel will also share some of his best practices and things to avoid, touching on the topics of introduction, bridging between speakers, scripting and humour.

Noel Bentley is a speaker, humorist, storytelling coach, emcee and Toastmaster.  He started project called Power of 3 Speaking, a new way of doing keynote speaking. He lives in Surrey, BC, Canada and can be reached at or coming soon at



You can also watch the latest TEDx BearCreekPark 2021 at

Watch for Part 2 (Toastcaster 149) coming up.

Toastcaster 147: Nurturing Young Minds Through Podcasting – Kevin Achtzener

Toastcaster 147: Nurturing Young Minds Through Podcasting – Kevin Achtzener

January 1, 2021


[22:13] Kevin Achtzener, DTM is in the process of doing his practicum at a Spanish bilingual school to earn an after degree in Education. He had the idea to teach his students new material as part of a Spanish Language Arts curriculum by getting them to create their own podcasts.

In this episode, Kevin, a regular on ToastCaster, shared his experience as to why he chose podcasting as a teaching medium, what he was trying to accomplish, how the class took to it and how the podcasts turned out. He talks a little about the methods he used, the subjects he selected as well as what both he and his students learned from the process.

He also tells how he got our Podcast Host Greg Gazin involved by interviewing him as both a sample podcast  and as a way to share his knowledge with the students through a podcast which was to be played in the classroom.

Kevin Achtzener is from Edmonton, Canada and can be reached at


Toastcaster 145: Podcasting 101: Hosting & Interview Techniques - 2018 Live Educational [Toastmasters ]

Toastcaster 145: Podcasting 101: Hosting & Interview Techniques - 2018 Live Educational [Toastmasters ]

November 30, 2020


[43:52] When I first started podcasting 15 years ago, the most frequently asked question was, ‘What’s a Podcast?” Five years ago, It was, “Why are you doing podcasts? It’s going the way of the radio, video is where it’s at. Today I’m often asked, “What are the benefits of podcasting?” And “How can I get involved? How do I get started?”

In April 2020 Apple Podcasts had over 1M podcast and over 35 million episodes. With the lockdown I’ve heard estimates ion 1.5 million and many many more episode. So Podcasting is not going away any time soon.

People do want to know more. In fact I’m questioned about podcasts and podcasting everyday.

As luck would have it, I recently came across a 2018, recording of a Podcast educational session I delivered - in a last minute request, to a group of Toastmasters which covers many of those questions and more. And while podcasting certainly continues to evolve, the information presented is still relevant today

This episode is not only for Toastmasters but for any communicator or leader who may be curious or interested in this topic.

  • We’ll look at what a podcast is, what it can do for you; the benefits of podcasts from a listeners, guests and a creator’s perspective.
  • You’ll hear stories along with tips and tricks in preparing, creating, hosting and moderating a podcast. 
  • You’ll discover how to preparing effective questions and interviewing Techniques.
  • We’ll also make reference to a number of resources, other podcasts,
  • and more.

You can also download a PDF of the slides used in the presentation.

You may also want to check out The Toastmasters Podcast: Creating Interesting Podcast Content  (Part 1) episode #157 and (Part 2) episode #158, featuring yours truly and co-host Ryan Levesque.

I also encourage you to read, "Is there a Podcast in Your Future," feature cover story in the  Jan 2021 issue of Toastmaster Magazine. 

Look for other upcoming podcast themed episodes here at ToastCaster and the Toastmasters Podcast. 

Toastcaster 138: Welcoming change & embracing technology a bloodline for tomorrow’s restaurants and retail – Brittain Brown

Toastcaster 138: Welcoming change & embracing technology a bloodline for tomorrow’s restaurants and retail – Brittain Brown

July 31, 2020


[27:41] Looking at how a pandemic has changed the way we dine and how restaurants operate and literally ravaged the industry. As some cities begin to re-open, you can’t help but wonder what the new normal is or might be or what future looks like moving forward.  

In this episode, our guest Brittain Brown offers us a little insight into that arena. From his experience, he’ll share some of his observations what’s going on in the minds of restaurant owners and operators, staff and patrons. You’ll hear about some of the changes in store beyond merely servers in face masks, constant cleaning and reassuring customers as factors whether restaurants can successfully reopen and stay in business. 

He addresses some of the challenges today’s leaders are facing, but also some of the opportunities that this represents including some food for thought on how leaders need to rethink and evolve their business models and adopt new technologies which are already driving the new normal and what might happen if they don’t.

What you’ll hear will be of interest and value to you regardless as to whether you’re a restauranteur, a patron or a leader in any other industry.  Brown’s insights can apply to anyone.

Brittain Brown, B.A. is from Toronto, Canada. He’s the President of Givex, a global company that provides the restaurant, retail, and other industries with the latest tech solutions and analytics that help clients drive sales and make better business decisions. He can be reached at

Toastcaster 136: Why Listen to Small Business Owner’s Stories - Paul Finkelstein DTM OMGTalk

Toastcaster 136: Why Listen to Small Business Owner’s Stories - Paul Finkelstein DTM OMGTalk

June 30, 2020


[29:33] Sometimes the best way to be a better leader and communicator is to learn from others’ stories. In this episode we hear from Paul Finkelstein who created OMGTalk, the small business owners podcast which he publishes on 5 different platforms.  

Paul tells us why he created it; how he interviews small business owners and its value to them and other small business owners. Paul also shares his own takeaways and what he has learned from the process.

I invited Paul to Toastcaster because when he asked me to be on his show OMGTalk, the four simple questions he indicated he was going to ask I found quite reflective. It forced me to think back and dig deep - which I found quite inspiring. Please have a listen to to our interview on Paul's show.

Paul Finkelstein is from Delray Beach, Florida, USA. He’s involved in the Medicare insurance industry and loves running and fundraising. He’s a Distinguished Toastmaster and is the producer of the OMGTalk Podcast. Paul can be reached on all the major platforms and at

Toastcaster 134: Lessons Learned from a Journey of Over 12 Million Steps - Greg Gazin

Toastcaster 134: Lessons Learned from a Journey of Over 12 Million Steps - Greg Gazin

May 19, 2020


[11:39] For a dedicated athlete or fit individual, walking a minimum of 10k steps a day for almost three years might seem like nothing. For me, a few decades older with ancient injuries walking roughly seven to eight kilometres a day that seems more like a pipe dream.

Amazingly, I did it. I never thought I could.  In this episode, I share a little about my journey and how beyond the usual benefits of exercise the experience was transformational; I learned new things - many about myself.

The text version of this podcast is entitled “What I learned from a Journey of over 11 million steps.”  There’s also an earlier related article, “One step at a time: a simple solution to a better life.”  The companion podcast is Toastcaster Episode: 90.

Articles can be found at Troy

Note: The photo shows me as I reached the 1000-day milestone. As I recorded this podcast 70 days later I had reached 12.3 million steps.  Sadly as I publish this podcast my journey has come to an end as a time slot has come up for my long awaited and overdue hernia operation.  But I will start again and learn many new things.


Toastcaster 133: Working Remotely in Unprecedented Times -  Chandrashekar LSP, Zoho Corp

Toastcaster 133: Working Remotely in Unprecedented Times - Chandrashekar LSP, Zoho Corp

April 30, 2020


[22:06] Many businesses are finding themselves in an emergency state and are desperately looking to ensure smooth continuity. 

In this episode, Greg speaks with Chandrashekar LSP, Head Evangelist for the Zoho Corporation in Canada.

Chandrashekar shares his observations on this new unprecedented business landscape and gives us an insight on what people and businesses can do and tools they can use to shift from typical office environments to the new reality without recreating the wheel

Working from home for over 15 years, he also offers his personal take on this subject as he currently has three kids under five years of age at home 24/7 and with his teams in India, and clients, partners, analysts and media in North America and around the world.

You’ll hear about Zoho’s Cloud-based business services for all departments in an organization including their new Remotely bundle consisting of 11 of their 45  applications in four categories, including: Internal/External Communications, Project Management, Remote Assistance and a collaborative Office Suite, which Zoho is offering at no charge for a limited time through their Small Business Emergency Assistance Subscription Program to help businesses get through the pandemic. (

Chandrashekar LSP is based in Montreal and has been with Zoho Corporation, a 24-year old privately held company for almost two decades. He can be reached at:

Toastcaster 130: Fear: Demystifying the Inner Demon – Donald Lee

Toastcaster 130: Fear: Demystifying the Inner Demon – Donald Lee

February 29, 2020


[24:42] Although Fear is commonly associated with public speaking, it’s ubiquitous;  we find it in many areas of our lives and it can be debilitating.

In this episode, Host Greg Gazin speaks with Donald Lee who shares his insights on the origins of our fear; its physiological effects and how we can use our minds to counteract the natural effects of those fears. You’ll also learn why the opposite of fear, is love.

Donald Lee is from Peace River, Canada. Now in his 3rd career as a spiritual author and speaker, he’s also been a musician, teacher, band director, athlete, and economist who has over 60 years of dealing with fear across many disciplines. He’s also returned to Toastmasters after a 20-year hiatus. having competed in the 1995 World Championship of Public Speaking. He is one of the keynote speakers at the upcoming District 42 Conference in Lethbridge, Alberta.

Lee’s 1st book, published December 2019 is: The Band Director’s Lessons About Life: Volume 1 – 50 Parables on Life’s Performance Cycle - modern-day parables, with stories inspired by his teaching experience.

Lee can be reached at There, listeners can also sign up for a free copy of Lee’s mini e-book containing five of the 50 parables.

Toastcaster 129: Philanthropy at -30 Degrees - Dan Johnstone, a.k.a Can Man Dan

Toastcaster 129: Philanthropy at -30 Degrees - Dan Johnstone, a.k.a Can Man Dan

January 31, 2020


[24:28] It’s amazing what a difference one man can make in the world. In this episode Greg speaks with Dan Johnstone, a.k.a Can Man Dan. Dan shares with us a little about his humble journey about how growing up in a less fortunate environment motivated him at a young age to begin a lifelong journey of helping others in need and make a difference in their lives.

He shares some of the tasks, activity and projects he’s taken on, including camping out in a truck for 4-5 days at a time 24/7 in sub-zero, -30 degree Celsius weather to collect much needed food of the Edmonton Food Bank.  Dan shares an encouraging message that anyone in the world no matter the age or economic status can also do the same if they take a first step. His actions and leadership in this area are living proof of that.

Dan Johnstone is an award-winning activist, philanthropist, community organizer, and motivational speaker. Alongside his newly created non-profit organization, the Can Man Dan Foundation, Dan works hands-on to alleviate poverty, assist vulnerable populations, and strengthen communities in Alberta, Canada. At 32, Dan has already raised millions in resources for people in need while bringing awareness to today’s most relevant issues.

Dan lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and can be reached at CanManDan.Org  or on his website DanJohnstone.Com.


Can Man Dan at Safeway - Southgate Centre

Toastcaster 126: Amazon Fire HD 10: Big Screen on a Small Budget

Toastcaster 126: Amazon Fire HD 10: Big Screen on a Small Budget

November 30, 2019


[11:03] On Black Friday our minds seem to wander towards the subject of shopping and for many us, it’s the time to think about getting new gadgets for work, home or when we’re out on the road. In this episode Greg takes a look at the all-new for 2019 Amazon Fire HD 10 which he recently had the opportunity of reviewing.

You’ll hear his thoughts on the new model, some of the features, what it can be used for and how it compares to other tablets. It’s a follow up podcast for his upcoming article of the same name, which can be found at on Dec 1st.

Toastcaster 124: Consequential Communication in Turbulent Times –  Diana Peterson-More

Toastcaster 124: Consequential Communication in Turbulent Times – Diana Peterson-More

October 19, 2019


[29:57] In this episode, Greg speaks with Diana Peterson-More about her new book: Consequential Communication in Turbulent Times: A Practical Guide to Leadership. Peterson-More draws from her experience as a labor lawyer, HR executive and organizational development consultant to show individuals and business leaders the way to clear, concise, and intentional communication--vital to successful human interaction in today’s fast-paced, volatile (and #MeToo) world. 

A short read, this book has a unique format, for example, incorporating step-by-step how-to lists for each chapter, a number of case studies, analyzing what went wrong and food for thought through “What-if“ scenarios, often circling back to previous case studies as new concepts are learned.

The book is based on real stories and practical advice, some of which Diana shares with us during our conversation including using “I” statements and the Platinum Rule and more.

Diana Peterson-More is from Pasadena, California and can be reached through her website or at 

Toastcaster 121: Building Future Seniors: Taking Ownership of our Aging Society - Angela Ostafichuk

Toastcaster 121: Building Future Seniors: Taking Ownership of our Aging Society - Angela Ostafichuk

August 31, 2019


[28:19] It’s no secret we have a rapidly aging population. Many seniors today were never properly prepared for their golden years; We don’t know how to age properly and kids today have no idea what it’s like to be a senior. Those are the strong opinions of Angela Ostafichuk, our guest on today’s episode.

Angela is an educator, consultant, curriculum developer, writer, photographer, world traveler and Toastmaster. Based in Edmonton, Canada, she’s spear-heading  and working in tandem on two projects: Future Seniors and Smart Strong Seniors. Together they are designed to not only inform and educate those who are already seniors to live better, but also to help society, regardless as to what generation they belong to embrace pro aging.

Today Angela will share some of her insights on the topic. This include highlights of her Pecha Kucha presentation Future Seniors, where she shares what we can do to take ownership for ourselves and others in an aging society. She’ll talk about getting Involved, Resources, Equality, Asking (the right questions) and Design, summed up by her acronym iREAD.

Angela Ostafichuk can be reached at or You can also check out her Pecha Kucha Edmonton presentation.



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